At the Police Court

Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). The Industrious ‘Prentice Alderman of London, the Idle one brought before him & impeach’d by his Accomplice. At the police court of St. Albans Tom Idle, accused of murderous highway robbery, appears before his former comrade as weaver’s apprentices, today’s alderman who turns away visibly moved. King’s evidence is the accomplice swearing with the left hand his perjury while a participating prostitute slips a coin into the hands of the clerk. One of the constables with the weapons of the accused. Engraving by Thomas Cook (c. 1744 – London 1818). Inscribed: Design’d by Wm. Hogarth / Plate 10. / Engrav’d by T. Cook. / Published by T. Cook No. 11. Little Britain & G. G. & I. Robinson No. 25. Pater-noster Row July 1st. 1795. 11⅛ × 14⅜ in (28.4 × 36.5 cm).

William Hogarth, Tom Idle at the Police Court (Cook)

Industry & Idleness X. – Fine impression though time-marked. Otherwise – contrary to all later Hogarth editions – in the original size. – Cook “made his mark as Hogarth engraver, too” (Thieme-Becker).

“ Soon it will end! Tom Idle has murdered and one of his accomplices swears as witness of the crime, though with the left hand since the guy himself is not worth a penny and perhaps believes that this way he does not take a true oath. The syndic not becomes aware of the trick as he has to accept something at his back … also the poor mother is present and pours out her heart before a man who has no heart; before the constable. ‘Shut up and don’t disturb the laudable court!’ ”

(caption of a lithograph).

The master’s famous, most popular suite, showing by example of two apprentices in a weaving mill as one of the main branches of industry in his days the chances of their life as well as the temptations detrimental to their career :

Calculated for the use & Instruction of youth
w(h)erein every thing necessary to be known was to be made
as intelligible as possible

(Hogarth in his Autobiographical Notes).

“ The scenes should be as easily intelligible as possible for which the engravings had not to be worked in all fineness. It was rather important to keep costs low so that even apprentices could buy these sheets. Hogarth designed a frame-like border around each picture – supposedly he assumed that the boys would pin up these engravings directly at the wall. In this border below every scene he had added a characteristic verse from the Bible to the idle and (or) industrious apprentice … at top on the one hand a cat-o-’nine-tails, a pair of fetters, and a halter as emblems of the tragic end of the idle apprentice and on the other hand golden chain, sword and mace as hints to the career of the industrious one ”

(Bachofen-Moser, William Hogarth in the Art Gallery Zurich, 1983, p. 98).

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– – – The same in Hogarth’s own etching in an impression from the plate retouched by the royal engraver James Heath (1757 London 1834) about 1822 (“Even these impressions have become relatively rare today though”, Art Gallery Esslingen 1970; and Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., VIII [1888], 625: “A fine edition”, esteemed also already by contemporary collectors of the rank of for instance an A. T. Stewart [Catalog of the Stewart Collection, New York 1887, 1221, “fine plates”]). Inscribed: Design’d & Engraved by Wm. Hogarth. / Plate 10. / Publish’d according to Act of Parliament Sepbr. 30. 1747. 10½ × 13¾ in (26.7 × 34.8 cm).

William Hogarth, Tom Idle at the Police Court

Illustration Hogarth Catalogue Zurich, 1983, 62. – On wide-margined sturdy paper.

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William Hogarth, Tom Idle at the Police Court (Cook small)

– – – The same in Cook’s smaller repetition, but without verse and marginal emblems and with the series title as caption. Inscribed: Pl. X. / Hogarth pinxt. / T. Cook & Son sc. / Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, Novr. 1st. 1808. Subject size 5⅛ × 6⅝ in (13 × 16.8 cm). – Trimmed within the wide white platemark.

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William Hogarth, Tom Idle at the Police Court (Industry + Idleness X; Riepenhausen)

– – – The same in engraving by Ernst Ludwig Riepenhausen (1765 Göttingen 1840, university engraver there). Inscribed: 36. / W. Hogarth inv & pinx. / Pl. 10. / R. d. fec. 8⅝ × 11⅝ in (22 × 29.5 cm). – Early impression. – Riepenhausen’s engravings after Hogarth (“very estimable”, Nagler) belong to his chief work and are partly even preferred to Hogarth’s own engravings.

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– – – The same by Riepenhausen as before, but on slightly toned minor paper.

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William Hogarth, Tom Idle at the Police Court (Industry + Idleness X; Riepenhausen)

– – – The same by Riepenhausen as before, but on especially strong paper, supposedly about 1850.

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William Hogarth, Tom Idle at the Police Court (Industry + Idleness X; lithograph)

– – – The same in lithography by C. F. Heintz. (1833/36.) Inscribed: 40. / Lith. v. C. F. Heintz. 1833. 9⅛ × 10 in (23.2 × 25.5 cm). – On slightly toned paper. – Title – Der fleissige Lehrbursche als Aldermann in London und der Faule vor ihm ist des Mordes überwiesen – and extensive caption à la Lichtenberg in German.

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further single sujets from the set available in various qualities

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(Mr. L. A. F., June 22, 2004)