HOGARTH, William
(b. 1697, London, d. 1764, London)

The Orgy

c. 1735
Oil on canvas, 62,5 x 75 cm
Sir John Soane's Museum, London

Hogarth, the son of a schoolmaster, was apprenticed to a silversmith and engraver in 1712, where his interest in copperplate engraving was aroused. He studied at Vanderbank's Academy in St Martin's Lane and at the art school of the court painter Thornhill, whose daughter he married in 1 729, and whose work left him with a life-long ambition to become an historical painter. While he was never to be successful in this field, he soon became well-known as an engraver and painter of pictures, such as the series A Harlot's Progress (1732), A Rake's Progress (1735) and Marriage à la Mode (1742-1744). These became so popular that he had to to take precautions against plagiarism.

This is scene III from the series of eight entitled A Rake's Progress. It represents a night at the Rose Tavern, Covent Garden, where an orgy is in preparation under the direction of Leathercoat, standing in the doorway. Tom Rakewell, incapably drunk, is robbed by the women of the establishment.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.