Remembrances of Excellency Past: The Scathingly Serious and Scintillating Social Satire of William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress

Presenting The Heir, part of A Rake’s Progress, the series of eight paintings by His Excellency William Hogarth, Outstanding 18th century British artist, social critic, pictorial satirist, printmaker and cartoonist. Hogarth, the pioneer of western sequential art, produced the canvases from 1732–33, then engraved and published them in print form in 1735. A Rake’s Progress charts the Excellent rise and the much less so fall of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift son of a rich merchant, who heads to London where he chicly squanders his wealth on luxurious living, hookers and gambling. As a consequence, big spender Tom is ultimately locked up in the Fleet Prison and, finally, Bedlam, the notorious mental institution. In The Heir Tom has come into his fortune upon the death of his miserly father. While servants mourn, he is being measured for new clothes. He is also rejecting the hand of his pregnant fiancée, Sarah Young, whom he had promised to marry (she is holding his ring and her mother is holding his love letters). Ambitious Tom pays her off and moves on to more seemingly sophisticated others, but it is clear that she still loves him. Excellent karma takes care of the rest.

Excellently made-to-measure: A fitting outcome for Tom Rakewell, as depicted in A Rake's Progress by Outstanding 18th Century artist and social commenter William Hogarth.

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One thought on “Remembrances of Excellency Past: The Scathingly Serious and Scintillating Social Satire of William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress

  1. deeanna08 says:

    A wonderfull painting and story. Why be with the one when you can be with all?

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