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Art and Images in Psychiatry
April 2003

A Rake's Progress: "Bedlam"

Author Affiliations

James C.HarrisMD

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(4):338-339. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.60.4.338

WILLIAM HOGARTH (1697-1764) was an English painter and engraver, humorist and satirist whose best-known works include several series of popular satiric engravings in which he ridiculed the viciousness and folly that he saw in the world around him.1 Hogarth was born in London, England, on November 10, 1697. At an early age, he showed artistic talent and was apprenticed to a silver engraver in London. Hogarth's fame began in 1731 with a series of 6 pictures called A Harlot's Progress, the first of his "modern moral subjects" (a progress being a journey toward a goal). Other series followed, including A Rake's Progress (1735) and Marriage a la Mode (1745). Editions of these engravings sold well. Hogarth played a major role in legislation leading to the artists' copyright law, often referred to as the Hogarth Act; he delayed the publication of A Rake's Progress until its passage. Hogarth responded to humanity as a whole, satirizing its weaknesses, pretensions, and vices. He is respected for his originality, his superb rendering of costume and setting, the accuracy of his vision, his humor, and the humanness of his characters.