William Hogarth

A Rake’s Progress (plate 3)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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

Display caption

Tom Rakewell (the 'Rake') is shown in the Rose Tavern, a notorious brothel on Drury Lane, London. Clearly drunk, he is relieved of his pocket watch by a sex worker, who passes it to her accomplice behind his back. In the background, alongside a broken mirror, a woman sets fire to a map of the world. The chaos of the scene is intended to communicate Rakewell’s moral decline. Various figures are deployed to a similar effect. Behind Rakewell, a young Black woman smiles in amusement as a pregnant ballad singer enters from the right. The singer holds a sheet entitled 'Black Joke', a bawdy street song whose title refers to female genitalia. 

Gallery label, March 2022

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Catalogue entry

T01790 [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.

T01790 A Rake's Progress (Plate 3) 1735

Etching and engraving 318×387 (12 1/2×15 1/4) on paper 466×615 (18 3/8×24 1/4); plate-mark 362×410 (14 1/4×16 1/8)
Writing-engraving ‘Invented, Painted, Engrav'd, & Publish'd by Wm. Hogarth June y'. 25. 1735. According to Act of Parliament|Plate 3.’ and twenty-line verse caption
Paulson 1970, I, pp.163–5, no.134, II, pls.141–2

The print (third state) shows Tom Rakewell squandering his inheritance on riotous living.

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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