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“ A poor devil who has been detained

because he cannot pay

shall pay for being detained ”

( Lichtenberg )

Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). Prison Scene. The new inevitable station in Rakewell’s life. The boy will have to take back the foaming jug of porter since he cannot even pay his footing to the also entering jailer, as even the play on the little table beside him has been rejected by John Rich as the then director of Covent Garden. In the background at the live stove of his fully functional laboratory an alchemist unperturbed in search for gold. On the left the faithful Sarah Young with her little daughter. A smelling-bottle shall give new courage to the faint first, offered by a helpful guy who also endeavors elsewhere as the

memorandum for the national procurement of money

slipped from hands proves. Engraving by Thomas Cook (c. 1744 – London 1818). Inscribed: Designed by Wm. Hogarth / Engraved by T. Cook / Published Aprl. 1st. 1797, by G. G. & J. Robinson, Pater-noster Row, London. / Pl. VII. 14⅛ × 16½ in (35.8 × 42 cm).

William Hogarth, Prison Scene (Cook)

The Rake’s Progress VII. – With multi-verse caption. – Cook “made his mark as Hogarth engraver, too” (Thieme-Becker) whose original folio size he kept contrary to all later Hogarth editions. Worth mentioning fine the chiaroscuro of his sheet here.

Hogarth’s grandiose depiction

of the execution of a sentence at insolvents

full of charming details. It is

a beerless , a horrible time .

And experienced by the master himself indirectly or directly. Since according to Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., VIII, 624, his landlady brought him into the notorious Fleet prison for unpaid debts – and received her appropriate memorial in due time. The catalogue Zurich of 1983, however, just mentions the father’s imprisonment.

Yet in spite of all also a time of unbroken hopes as embodied not only by the said falling memorandum, but far more so by the alchemist untouched by the rest of the lively company:

“ … who has a pot on the fire not just for the best of the nation, but whole mankind. The philosophical patience in the man’s face and whole bearing has something really agreeable indeed; one sees he has learned waiting, an art which is so necessary with any other business in the world than in making gold … The friendship between the man and his stove is touching indeed if one considers that both sit here just because of their relation, and each probably could have been something far better without the other. Nevertheless they stick together, like from one piece … and feed each other reciprocally with hopes and coals until the day of the answer to the great problem. Far this day can be impossibly. The escape pipe through the barred window is installed too well, — it cannot fail; whereas the installation by which the great product shall be conducted into the bottle not much — it must fail … the circulus in destillando is unmistakable here, the condenser is closer to the fire than the retort, and while both quarrel about the possession of the tincture the infinite vastness outside has it all,

and so happens the dissolution of the problem ”

(Lichtenberg).

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William Hogarth, Prison Scene (Cook small)

– – – The same in the smaller repetition Cook worked together with his son without the caption here replaced by the series title. Inscribed: Pl. VIII. / Hogarth pinxt. / T. Cook & Son sc. / Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, Septr. 1st. 1808. Subject size 5¾ × 6¾ in (14.5 × 17.2 cm). – Trimmed within the wide white platemark.

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complete copies of the set and further individual plates available


„ Vielen Dank für Alles, liebe Grüße und schönes Wochenende von der Mosel Herzlichst “

(Frau A. B., 4. April 2003)