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Genuine, original William Hogarth engravings and etchings from Darvill's Rare Prints

William Hogarth was an English painter and printmaker who poignantly commented the English society of the eighteenth century with biting satire. The career and life of Hogarth were as unusual as his prints.

William was born as the son of a shopkeeper (his mother) and a schoolmaster and publisher. The youth of William was overshadowed by the chronic financial problems of his father, who was even imprisoned because of his debts. This humiliating experience formed Hogarth for the rest of his life.

Hogarth started an apprenticeship as a silversmith in 1714, but never finished it. He then tried his luck as an independent engraver for copper plates. His early commissions were for cards, book illustrations and single prints. In 1720, he registered at the John Vanderbank Art Academy. Around 1726 or earlier, he was taught painting by James Thornhill whose daughter he later married. He earned some reputation for theater decoration paintings.

Hogarth experienced his first big financial success with A Harlot's Progress, a series of paintings from which he produced engravings in 1732. Only the engravings survived. The paintings were lost in a fire in 1755.

A Harlot's Progress is a set of 6 prints about the hapless life of a prostitute. It was a completely new kind of genre prints that were referred as moral history subjects.

After the big success of A Harlot's Progress, Hogarth published a male counterpart series, A Rake's Progress - a story in eight plates showing the decline of a promising young man into a life of drinking and immoral behavior.

In 1743, the painting series Marriage à la Mode was completed. It is considered his masterpiece. In Marriage à la Mode Hogarth turned his satire on the follies of the upper classes. The theme of this series is about marriage for money. Although the prints of Marriage à la Mode sold well, the paintings did not. Therefore all prints designed afterwards, were created exclusively as print designs without any painted counterparts.

In 1747 followed the series Industry and Idleness, a moral story of an idle and an industrious apprentice in twelve plates.

In 1753 Hogarth wrote his book The Analysis of Beauty, a wrap-up of his artistic and esthetic principles.

Hogarth was a very controversial and individual character. Driven by a sense for justice, he missed no chance to get into a quarrel with his contemporaries. His most hated enemy was the British politician John Wilkes, whom he had ridiculed in one of his engravings. William Hogarth died on October 26, 1764.


The Cock Pit or Pit Ticket
(click image above for photo of entire plate)

Pit Ticket: The Cockpit

Invented, Painted and Engraved by William Hogarth

An original antique etching/engraving from the Heath edition (1822)

Original 200-year-old engraving/etching

Sheet Size: approx. 24 x 18½ inches

Condition: Excellent


Pit Ticket: The Cockpit

This print depicts a crowd of men from many professions and of all classes and ages reacting in various—mostly fanatical—ways to their fortunes at this ironically dubbed "Royal Sport."

In the center of the composition (which reflects Leonardo's Last Supper) stands a blind nobleman (Lord Albermarle Bertie) accepting bets impassively from seven frantic men,most of them common people. They include a postboy (he wears a horn in his belt) with a gaping hole in his coat, a Black servant, an old gentleman and a butcher who attempts to show his money to the blind bookie. So intensely involved are all these in placing and accepting bets that they fail to see a youth steal a note marked "Pay to £20" from the bookie.

To the right of this cluster a fellow cracks his knuckles as he looks with intense anxiety at the fight. Above him a gentleman examines his coat where it has touched the postboy; above the gentleman a Quaker sneezes at the snuff which a ridiculous sweep takes affectedly. Below the sweep a carpenter (a rule sticks out from his pocket) has fallen on a fat nobleman, who has crushed the man directly in front of him, who in turn has caused a third to be dashed againt the arena. To the right of this group a man seems to urge his cock.

On the left side of the mock Christ figure, a happy little man with a wart on his forehead writes out "Bets." Next to him a dour fellow holds a bag with a cock's head sticking out of it; the cock seems to smile with naïve interest in the fight. In contrast to the trainer's solemnity a toothless man beside him laughs hysterically, and a third fellow in his shirtsleeves points vehemently to his coin in the arena. Behind this group a deaf cripple is addressed without effect through his horn. Above him a farrier climbs out of the pit, and a fat gentleman sneezes from snuff spilled by the Frenchman. This foreigner (who resembles the sweep in posture) stands outside the pit against the English royal arms and looks disdainfully at the madness below him. A dark-faced messenger wearing a helmet with the emblem of Mercury on it stands beside him. To the right a disinterested man lights his pipe next to a dog that shows a lively interest in the fight. A portrait of "Nan Rawlings," a famous trainer, hangs on the wall.

In the foreground two men make a bet by knocking the butts of their whips together. To the right a drunk is about to have his purse snatched away on the end of a cane. The man with the gallows on his back is a public hangman, whose presence fails to discourage the criminal. The fellow to the hangman's right seems about to start a fight.

The feet of the rival trainers are visible at opposite ends of the arena. The shadow in the center is that of a man who has been suspended above the crowd for not paying his debts. Unaffected by his experience, he attempts to be with or barter his watch.

[Excerpt from Engravings by Hogarth, edited by Sean Shesgreen (Dover, 1973).]


The Cock Pit
(click image to enlarge)

The Cock Pit

"The Works of William Hogarth
in a Series of Engravings: with descriptions and a
Comment on Their Moral Tendency
by the Rev. John Trusler"

(Jones and Co., Temple of the Muses, (Late Lackington's), Finsbury Square, London, 1833)

Original 185+-year-old copperplate engraving

Sheet size: 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches
original text accompanies engraving

Condition: Very Good. Please refer to detailed scan by clicking on thumbnail image provided.


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