Modern Moral Themes by William Hogarth

A prostitute infected with syphilis dies in misery; a violently insane bawdy in a notorious insane asylum; An old drunkard sits on a set of steps, seemingly oblivious to her exposed bosom, while her child falls over the wooden railing to his death at the entrance to the gin cellar. English painter and printmaker William Hogarth, born in 1697, is best known for his series of modern moral paintings. Each of these series depicts a special danger to the number 18ysociety of the last century, to serve as a warning to those who might have been flirting with sin and vice.

At 18yIn twentieth-century England, demand for erotic literature was widespread among the upper class. Those who can afford books can indulge in pornographic and erotic writings to their liking. Those who couldn’t, were simply out of luck. This lack of accessibility, due to class division, led to print publications becoming very popular. Publications and leaflets could be distributed with relative ease, allowing the wallet to be loosened if its owner had the desire. Although Hogarth’s prints were not pornographic, they certainly carried the kind of raucous charm that the public eagerly sought, ensuring their widespread popularity.

william Hogarth, Progress of the adulteressplate 3. Mole, the debtor, tried by Sir John Gonson, a brothel of the period, 1732, engraving, unknown collection

William Hogarth series 1731 Progress of the adulteress It was the first of his modern ethical themes. A series consisting of six plates, and subsequent engravings, Progress of the adulteress It tells the cautionary tale of young Moll Hackbot, a country girl who falls into prostitution after moving to London. The title of the series alludes to John Bunyan’s Christian allegory. Biography of Hajjfirst published in 1678.

Painting 3 in the series depicts Moll after her transformation from a reserved woman to an ordinary prostitute. She sits on the bed with her maid, as the judge and bailiffs enter to quickly arrest her night work. Although the presentation seems simple, Progress of the adulteress Ripe with symbols. The witch’s hat and birch bar hanging on the wall behind our unfortunate subject connect her to the black arts, the work of the devil, in other words – the profession of prostitution. The cat pose also indicates Moll’s new “position” in life. There are also other “clues” scattered around the scene that tell us more about the protagonist’s life. For example, the box of wigs placed on the bed canopy bears the name “James Dalton,” a notorious 18-year-old man.yA highwayman from the last century, evidence of a relationship with at least one notorious man.

William Hogarth, The Rake's Progress, plate 8, The Madhouse, 1763 (retouched by Hogarth), engraving, McCormick Library, Northwestern University

William Hogarth, The Rake’s Progress, plate 8, the crazy1763 (Hogarth’s revision), engraving, McCormick Library, Northwestern University

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