Rake's Progress Plate II

Rake's Progress Plate II

Date: 1820
Dimensions:
350 x 404 mm
Medium: Etching and engraving
Object number: PT2095.1
DescriptionA Rake's Progress Plate II. Surrounded by Artists and Professors
Craddock & Baldwin Edition 1820
1735. Etching and Engraving. 35.2 x 41.0 cm
Engraver: William Hogarth (1697-1764)
Below Plate: Invented by Wm. Hogarth and Publish'd according to Act of Parliament June ye 25, 1735
A later printing by Craddock & Baldwin
Poulson 133
PT2095.1
In this scene we see Tom, now well established in his luxurious London house dressed in fine cloths, Tom is attempting to follow the manners and paractices of the aristocracy by having a morning levée. A levèe was the morning audience with attendants, and tradesmen who provide Tom with all types of costly and unnecessary services.
The Levèe was adotped by the English elite from the French court, and Tom is imitating the custom. On one side of Tom is a French dancing master with his voilin, standing behide him is a landscape gardener presenting his plans for the landscaping of the house's grounds and a prize fighter with his quarter staffs. Next to him is Tom's fencing teacher. Tom can be seen pointing to a list or a bill. He may be arguing with the man who seems to be about to draw his sword, or this man may be a "bully", someone Tom has hired to beat someone up for him.
The man kneeling at Tom's feet is his jockey, who is presenting Tom with a trophy for his horse "Silly Tom" who has won a race at Epsom. The man playing the harpsichord is supposed to be Niccolo Porpora who was in a conflict with Hogarth's musical hero Handel.
The scroll hung on the chair is a list of gifts from the aristocracy given to the Italian castrato singer Farinelli who Porpora had promoted. The group gathered in the other room are listerning to a poet reading an "Epistle to the Rake" and is Hogarth's reference to the practice of Alexander Pope in dedicating epistles to his aristocratic patrons. Hogarth is making a social comment with this engraving. Many people in the emerging merchant classes in the 18th century tried to elevate themselves into the upper class and aristocracry with their new found wealth, however they were often taken advantage of and scorned by the social group they wished to join.