|Published||Wm. Hogarth invt. pinxt. et sculpt. 1732. [John & Josiah Boydell, London, c.1795]|
|Dimensions||Images 298 x 376 mm, Plates 320 x 394 mm, Sheets 475 x 645 mm|
A complete set of six engravings of Hogarth's famous moral satire, A Harlot's Progress. The series was the first of Hogarth's 'Moral Progresses,' and, like the following 'Rake's Progress' and 'Marriage a-la-Mode', were a sardonic twist on the popular allegories of religious development and revelation in works like Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. The series, depicting the career of a young prostitute from initiation to untimely death, was inspired by an oil painting Hogarth had completed of a harlot in her boudoir. The original paintings were once in the collection of William Beckford Snr, politician and father of William Beckford Jnr, the connoisseur and author, but were destroyed in a fire which consumed Beckford's Fonthill House in 1755.
Plate 1: The young woman, Mary (or 'Moll') Hackabout, arrives in Cheapside on a stagecoach from York. She has brought a goose for her cousin, who, in failing to meet Moll, leaves her open to the solicitations of the bawd, Mother Needham. In the background, the infamous rapist Francis Charteris watches the scene with interest, flanked by his pimp. To the left, a clergyman rides past, too intent on the letter he has received to save the girl from her bleak future. The inscription space reads 'A Harlot's Progress Plate 1' with a Latin cross at centre.
Paulson 121 iv/iv, BM Satires 2031
Plate 2: Moll, now the mistress of a wealthy Anglophile Jew, causes a distraction by kicking over a small table, allowing her young paramour to escape with the assistance of a maidservant. In the foreground, a monkey carries off Moll's hat and a piece of lace, towards a table with a ball mask, emblematic of Moll's false pretences. The inscription space reads 'Plate 2' with a Latin cross at centre.
Paulson 122 iii/iv, BM Satires 2046
Plate 3: Moll, having been thrown out by her Jewish keeper, is forced into common prostitution in a Drury Lane brothel. She rests on a bed, holding a watch that she has presumable stolen from one of her paramours, and is attended to by her syphilitic servant while a cat playfully investigates her skirts. In the background, a witches hat and broom have replaced the earlier accoutrements of the masquerade. To the right, the Bailiffs arrive for her arrest. The inscription space reads 'Plate 3' with a Latin cross at centre.
Paulson 123 iii/iii, BM Satires 2061
Plate 4: Beginning to show signs of venereal disease, Moll is now incarcerated in Bridewell, forced to beat Hemp alongside a host of gamblers, whores, and wastrels. The master of the workshop threatens her with a cane, standing before a set of stocks emblazoned with the moral 'Better to Work than Stand Thus.' In the foreground, her syphilitic servant hitches up her garter as another woman rids her clothing of lice. The inscription space reads 'Plate 4' with a Latin cross at centre.
Paulson 124 iii/iii, BM Satires 2075
Plate 5: Moll, wrapped entirely in sweating blankets, finally expires from her sickness, unobserved by the maidservant, who is busy watching the lively discussion of two quack doctors. A small boy, presumably Moll's son, waits by the fire for his dinner, scratching at his hair, while a woman at left rifles through Moll's belongings. The inscription space reads 'Plate 5' with a Latin cross at centre.
Paulson 125 iv/iv, BM Satires 2091
Plate 6: A small crowd attend Moll's wake, her coffin at centre. To the left, a parson disinterestedly stares into the middle distance, spilling brandy onto his lap. Moll's servant, melancholic, rests her glass on the coffin. Meanwhile a group of Moll's fellow harlots feign remorse, while actually busying themselves in pick-pocketing an undertaker. Moll's little boy, dressed in mourning clothes, is distractedly winding a spinning top below his mother's coffin. The inscription space reads 'Plate 6' with a Latin cross at centre.
Paulson 126 iii/iii, BM Satires 2106
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764) was born in London, the son of an unsuccessful schoolmaster and writer from Westmoreland. After apprenticeship to a goldsmith, he began to produce his own engraved designs in about 1710. He later took up oil painting, starting with small portrait groups called conversation pieces. He went on to create a series of paintings satirising contemporary customs, but based on earlier Italian prints, of which the first was The Harlot's Progress (1731), and perhaps the most famous The Rake's Progress. His engravings were so plagiarised that he lobbied for the Copyright Act of 1735, commonly referred to as 'Hogarth's Act,' as a protection for writers and artists. During the 1730s Hogarth also developed into an original painter of life-sized portraits, and created the first of several history paintings in the grand manner.
Condition: Excellent impressions with full margins. Minor waterstaining to left margin of sheets, not affecting plates or images. Small repaired tears to some margins, not affecting plates.