William Hogarth - Career - Moralizing Art - Harlot's and Rake's Progresses

Harlot's and Rake's Progresses

In 1731, he completed the earliest of the series of moral works which first gave him recognition as a great and original genius. This was A Harlot's Progress, first as paintings, (now lost), and then published as engravings. In its six scenes, the miserable fate of a country girl who began a prostitution career in town is traced out remorselessly from its starting point, the meeting of a bawd, to its shameful and degraded end, the whore's death of venereal disease and the following merciless funeral ceremony. The series was an immediate success, and was followed in 1735 by the sequel A Rake's Progress showing in eight pictures the reckless life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a rich merchant, who wastes all his money on luxurious living, whoring, and gambling, and ultimately finishes his life in Bedlam. The original paintings of A Harlot's Progress were destroyed in the fire at Fonthill Abbey in 1755; A Rake's Progress is displayed in the gallery room at Sir John Soane's Museum, London.

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