A Rake's Progress 'Plate 3' [The Orgy]

Method Copper engraving
Artist William Hogarth
Published Invented, Painted, & Engrav'd by Wm. Hogarth, & Publish'd June ye. 25 1735, According to Act of Parliament.
Dimensions Image 315 x 388 mm, Plate 355 x 405 mm, Sheet 426 xx 562 mm
Notes Plate 3 from Hogarth's most famous moral satire, A Rake's Progress, the successor to his highly lauded 'Harlot's Progress'. Aside from its celebrated subject matter, and its crystallisation of the Rake as an iconic stock caricature in English satire, the series also occupies an important part in the history of printmaking in the British Isles, coinciding with the the passing of 'Hogarth's Act.' Publication of the series was delayed by the artist in an attempt to curb the efforts of copyists, though before the passing of the law, a number of pirated editions had already appeared. The original oil paintings of the series are still extant, and are regarded as being amongst the most significant works in Sir John Soane's Museum.

Plate 3: An orgy at the notorious Rose Tavern in Covent Garden sees Tom in a state of the utmost drunken excess. In the foreground, one of the prostitutes sits in her petticoats, pulling up her stockings after receiving Tom's attention. Her dress and corset lie in a pile beside her. Tom has turned his attention to her colleague, who strokes his chest while she robs him, passing his fob watch behind his back to a waiting accomplice. Behind them, the other women of the establishment quaff and spit at each other, while the predatory madam runs her hand across the throat of one of the younger women. In the background, a serving woman holds a candlestick to a map of the world, preparing to set the 'Totus Mundus' aflame. Beside the map, a series of portraits of Roman emperors have had their faces slashed by the drunkard Tom. Only Nero is left, an allegory for Tom's debauchery and the destructive fires, both physical and metaphorical, that he stokes with his actions.

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.

Paulson 134 iii/iii, BM Satires 2188

Condition: Light toning to sheet. Vertical creases and toning to edges of sheet where paper has been folded when previously framed, not affecting the image or plate. Unidentified watermark of a crowned two headed eagle.
Framing unmounted
Price £550.00
Stock ID 49523

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