William Hogarth

A Rake’s Progress (plate 1)


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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William Hogarth 1697–1764
Etching and engraving on paper
Image: 318 × 387 mm
Transferred from the reference collection 1973

Catalogue entry

T01789 [from] A Rake's Progress 1735 [T01789-T01794;incomplete]

Six plates from a series of eight, etching and engraving, various sizes
Transferred from the reference collection 1973


The eight paintings for the series are now in Sir John Soane's Museum. They were Hogarth's second series of ‘modern moral subjects’ and were painted soon after the publication of ‘A Harlot's Progress’ in 1732. The subscription for the prints after them began in late 1733, but Hogarth delayed publication until 25 June 1735, the day the Engravers' Copyright Act became law. Even so, pirated copies had already appeared by that time. The set cost two guineas, but Hogarth had also a smaller and cheaper set, copied by Thomas Bakewell and costing 2s 6d, published soon after. The original copperplates were sold by Quaritch in 1921 and are now in a private collection. Louis Gérard Scotin (1690-after 1755) is thought to have assisted Hogarth with the engravings.

T01789 A Rake's Progress (Plate I) 1735

Etching and engraving 318×387 (12 7/16×15 11/16) on paper 465×610 (18 3/8×24); plate-mark 362×410 (14 7/16×16 1/8)
Writing-engraving ‘Invented Painted and Engrav'd by Wm. Hogarth, & Publish'd June y'. 25 1735. According to Act of Parliament Plate 1.’ and eighteen-line verse caption.
LITERATURE Paulson 1970, I, pp.158–70, no.132, II, pls.138–9

Plate 1 (third state, according to Paulson) shows Tom Rakewell coming into his inheritance and going back on his promise to marry Sarah Young, a girl he seduced while a student at Oxford.

Published in:
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988

Film and audio

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    Stravinsky's Progress

    Igor Stravinsky first saw William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress engravings in Chicago in 1946 and soon embarked on writing his …

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