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Title

The first stage of cruelty, from the series The four stages of cruelty

1751


Artist

William Hogarth

England

10 Nov 1697 - 25 or 26 October 1764


About

Hogarth designed this set of prints with a reforming purpose in mind. In his 'Autobiographical notes' he describes his intention: "'The four stages of cruelty' were done in hopes of preventing in some degree that cruel treatment of poor Animals which makes the streets of London more disagreeable to the human mind, than anything what ever, the very describing of which gives pain." The series relates the career of Tom Nero, a child of the slums, who begins by torturing dogs, progresses to beating horses in the street then, as a grown up, murders his pregnant lover, Ann Gill. Finally, Nero is dissected in an anatomy theatre as an executed criminal, a noose still around his neck.

'First stage of cruelty' shows a street in London with young boys inflicting various forms of cruelty upon animals; in the centre, a boy (Tom Nero), identifiable by the badge on his shoulder as a pupil of St. Giles's Parish School, thrusts an arrow into a dog's anus. Another youth, better dressed, offers Nero a tart as an incentive to stop his abusive behaviour.


Details


Date

1751


Media category

Print


Materials used

etching and engraving


Edition

i of 2 states


Dimensions

37.8 x 31.9 cm plate mark; 50.4 x 43.9 cm frame


Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Credit

European Art Collection Benefactors' Fund 2015


Location

Not on display


Accession number

272.2015.1


Artist information

William Hogarth

Artist profile

Works in the collection

32


Provenance


Laurence W Hodson, England

Larkhall Fine Art Ltd, 04 Apr 2013, Bath/Sommerset/England, purchased at Laurence W Hodson sale, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury, London, 4 April 2013, lot 326


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Unknown, Hogarth’s graphic works, London, 1989, pp 148–49, no 187, illus p 372.