The Great Court of the British Museum, £9.99
Height: 356.000 mm
Width: 408.000 mm
Prints and Drawings
William Hogarth, A Rake's Progress, plate 8, a print
This is the last of eight prints making up Hogarth's series A Rake's Progress, based on paintings now at Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Hogarth is best remembered for such 'Modern Moral Subjects' commenting on contemporary society. In this case a young man falls prey to the corrupting effecting of eighteenth-century consumerism: he spends his miserly father's fortune on art, music, whores and other gentlemanly pursuits; marries a rich older woman and gambles away her wealth; is sent to the debtor's prison and finally, having lost his mind, ends his days in Bedlam Hospital.
The print is shown here with revisions made at the end of Hogarth's life (the coin drawn on the wall bears the date 1763) when he was much depressed by disputes with younger contemporaries. He may well have been inviting an analogy between the madhouse and the current state of the nation.
R. Paulson, Hogarths graphic works, 3rd edition (London, The Print Room, 1989)
D. Bindman, Hogarth and his times: serious, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
T. Clayton, The English print, 1688-1802 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1997)
R. Paulson, Hogarth, vol 2 (Cambridge, Lutterworth, 1991-93)