William Hogarth, A Rake's Progress, plate 1

A Rake's Progress, plate 1

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)

RA Collection: Art

The first plate of William Hogarth's set of engravings A Rake's Progress. As for many of Hogarth's best-known engravings, the set was based on preexisting paintings by the printmaker, painted in 1734 and now in Sir John Soane's Museum, London.

The set, made as a sequel to Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, was the artist's second 'modern moral subject'. It tells the story of a young man of modest means, Tom Rakewell, coming into an inheritance and entering fashionable London life before succumbing to financial ruin and madness. This first plate shows Tom in the chambers of his recently-deceased father. While the father's lodgings are modest, there is ample evidence of the wealth which he accrued in his career as a moneylender. Tom, being measured up for a mourning suit, is surrounded by: an attorney making a list of his father's possessions; Sarah Young, a pregnant girl he had promised to marry but now tries to pay off with a handful of coins; and the girl's angry mother.

This impression is from the second state of the plate, published in 1735. In later impressions the image was altered: the alterations included making the face of Sarah Young less attractive and inserting a Bible in the bottom left corner.

Object details

A Rake's Progress, plate 1
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)
Published by
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)
Object type
Place of Publication

317 mm x 387 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
This image is from a book

Hogarth's prints. Vol. I. - [s.l.]: [n.d.]

Click here to view the book

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