Hogarth trained as a silver engraver and was practicing as an engraver by 1720. After studying in Vanderbank's and Thornhill's Academies, he became active as a painter c.1728; in 1735 he set up his own drawing academy in St Martin's Lane. At first he painted conversation pieces, but he achieved his greatest success with the "modern moral subjects" (beginning with the 'Harlot's Progress') that he engraved himself and sold by subscription to a wide public. He also painted history subjects and, in the 1740s, applied himself to portraiture. In 1757 he was appointed Serjeant painter to the King. Hogarth exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1761 and was elected to the committee of the Society in the same year. His 'Analysis of Beauty' was published in 1753.
Hogarth's reputation has been based almost entirely on his prints, which mark the beginning of an unrivalled English satirical tradition, and established him as an entirely original force in English art. The combination of humour and serious moral purpose has its counterpart in the pages of Defoe, Swift, and Hogarth's friend and admirer, Henry Fielding.
Stimulated by the success of 'A harlot's progress' (1733/4), Hogarth executed a second series of prints, 'A rake's progress', based on the original paintings now in Sir John Soane's Museum, London. The verses below the prints tell the story clearly. Young Rakewell progressively squanders his inherited fortune through his profligate lifestyle and finally ends up in a madhouse. Hogarth delayed publication of the series until the Engravers' Copyright Act (known as Hogarth's Act) had been enacted in 1735, intended to protect an artist's designs from pirated versions.
A rake's progress: the levee
etching and engraving
36.0 x 41.0 cm platemark
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 2 exhibitions
A Rake's Progress: Hogarth and Hockney, Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Woollahra, Mar 2006–Mar 2006
Old Europe: Prints & drawings from the collection 1500-1800, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Jun 2006–06 Aug 2006
Referenced in 1 publication
Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's graphic works, New Haven, 1965. cat.no. 133