A Rake's Progress, Plate 4

William Hogarth, English, 1697 - 1764

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published June 25, 1735

Etching and engraving on laid paper

Plate: 15 15/16 × 13 7/8 in. (40.5 × 35.3 cm)

Sheet: 21 5/8 × 13 7/8 in. (55 × 35.3 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Florence and Lansing Porter Moore 1937 Fund, the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W.18 Fund, the Jean and Adolph Weil Jr. 1935 Fund, the Barbara Dau '78 Fund for European Art, and the Class of 1935 Memorial Fund

2015.9.4

Publisher

William Hogarth

Geography

Place Made: England, United Kingdom, Europe

Period

1600-1800

Object Name

Print

Research Area

Print

Not on view

Inscriptions

In plate, below image: O vanity of Youthfull Blood, so by Misuse to poison Good! Reason awakes, & views unbar’d The sacred Gates he watch’d to guard; / Approaching views the Harpy Law And Poverty with icy Paw / Ready to seize the poor Remains That Vice hath left of all his Gains. / Cold Penitence, lame After-Though, With Fears, Despair, & Horrors fraught, / Call back his guilty Pleasures dead, Whom he hath wrong’d & whom betray’d. / Invented Painted & [superscript] Engrav’d by Wm. [m superscript] Hogarth & Publish’d June ye. [e superscript] 25. 1735. According to Act of Parliament. _______ Plate 4.

Label

In this series of eight prints, Hogarth addresses the indulgence and excess that sudden wealth can lead to if bestowed on an intemperate person. The artist first created a series of eight paintings, which were then engraved. The canvases were painted in 1732–34, and the engravings made and published by 1735. The prints allowed more people to see these works than if they had been exhibited only as paintings. 

The protagonist of A Rake’s Progress has great wealth that he seems to enjoy until his extravagance causes his ruin. Hogarth recognizes that often the farther we pursue own own satisfaction, the more we hurt ourselves. He introduces the viewer to Tom Rakewell, who is described in the title of the series as a rake, or gentleman of promiscuous tendencies, who is the heir to his father’s fortune. In the first scene, he visits his late father’s home, which shows evidence of the father as a miser. In the second print, Tom conducts a levée, a routine usually associated with royalty, in which he is instructed in cultural matters including dance and music. Hogarth mocks this practice by depicting the teachers in the French style—of which he was not an admirer. The third and fourth scenes show Tom at a brothel and narrowly escaping arrest for his fiscal irresponsibility. Tom then tries to save himself by marrying a rich woman despite her old age and ugly countenance, but he quickly gambles away his newfound wealth. Finally, Tom is imprisoned and condemned to an insane asylum. 

Hogarth’s moralistic commentary is not unique to this story’s protagonist; rather, Tom Rakewell is a lens through which we can view the artist’s understanding and critique of society at the time. On view are six of the eight prints in A Rake’s Progress, excluding prints 5 and 6, which depict his marriage to save his wealth and plea for salvation while in a gentlemen’s club.

From the 2019 exhibition A Space for Dialogue 94, Society Engraved, curated by Jules Wheaton '19, Levinson Intern Campus Engagement

Exhibition History

A Space for Dialogue 94, Society Engraved, Jules Wheaton, Class of 2019, Levinson Intern, Alvin P. Gutman Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 22-August 4, 2019.

Publication History

Jules Wheaton, Class of 2019, Levinson Intern, A Space for Dialogue 94, Society Engraved, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019.

Provenance

C. G. Boerner, New York, New York; sold to present collection, 2015.

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