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The Rake's Progress

'The Rake's Progress' This is Marillion's little joke. The Rake's Progress is a series of eight pictures by Hogarth (William Hogarth, that is) following a young man who has inherited a fortune. He dumps his girlfriend and spends his days in drinking, gambling and the pleasures of the flesh. Even his former fiancĂ©e's pregnancy cannot stop his debauchery and eventually he ends up in the notorious Bedlam, a hospital for the insane. Many of them were actually in the advanced stages of syphilis, which causes insanity.

The pictures are in the Sir John Soane museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London. It's round the corner from Holborn tube station and free to visit and is a magnificent museum to boot. The third in the series, in which the titular Rake is living it up in the taverns is on this page, but the following link will take you to a site with all the pictures upon it: The Rake's Progress. These particular versions appear to be from the engravings not the paintings displayed at the Soane museum.

Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia:
"Hogarth, William (1697-1764). The English painter and engraver William Hogarth was primarily a humorist and satirist. His 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.

William Hogarth was born in London, England, on Nov. 10, 1697. At an early age young Hogarth showed artistic talent and was apprenticed to an engraver in London.

Hogarth's fame began in 1731 with the appearance of a series of six pictures called A Harlot's Progress. Other series followed, including A Rake's Progress (1735) and Marriage a la Mode (1745). Editions of these engravings sold well. Hogarth managed to get a law passed, called the Hogarth Act, that protected an artist's copyright and kept others from selling copies.

Hogarth, who has been called a master of caricature, contributed greatly to the development of technique in this field. Unlike modern caricaturists, however, Hogarth did not ridicule individuals by exaggerating their conspicuous features. Instead he made fun of humanity as a whole, satirizing its weaknesses, pretensions, and vices.

In his own day many critics considered Hogarth's work to be vulgar and inferior. Now he is placed high in the history of English art. He is respected for his originality, his superb rendering of costume and setting, and for the accuracy of his vision, his humour, and the humanness of his characters.

Hogarth died in London on Oct. 26, 1764. He was buried in Chiswick churchyard where his friends erected a tomb to him in 1771."

Sadly, the only memorial to this great artist is the grim and grotty Hogarth Roundabout in one of the most congested parts of west London.

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