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A rake's progress: plate 6



William Hogarth


10 Nov 1697 - 1764


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.


Other Title

A rake's progress: the gaming house



Media category


Materials used

etching and engraving


36.0 x 41.0 cm platemark

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 2006


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

William Hogarth

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's graphic works, New Haven, 1965, no 137.

Ronald Paulson, Hogarth’s graphic works, London, 1989, pp 89–91, 96, no 137, illus p 314.

Peter Raissis, Prints & drawings Europe 1500-1900, Sydney, 2014, p 76.