(London: Published According to Act of Parliament, 30 September, 1747). Platemark, Plates 1-10: 265 x 350 mm. (10 1/2 x 13 3/4"); Platemark, Plates 11-12: 275 x 405 mm. (10 1/2 x 16"). Size of sheets varies. Platemark, Plates 1-10: ; Platemark, Plates 11-12: 275 x 405 mm. (10 1/2 x 16"). Size of sheets varies. Most of the plates in Paulson's Second State.
With 12 detailed and highly animated scenes, rich with symbolism, contrasting the lives of an industrious apprentice and an idle apprentice, from their early days on the job to their ultimate destinies, the plates within architectural frames decorated with allegorical elements, a cartouche (or sometimes two) below the scene containing a quote from the Bible. Paulson 168-79. First plate a little darkened, Plate 11 with slight fraying to head edge, occasional corner creases or short closed tears (none affecting images), otherwise in fine condition, clean and fresh with rich impressions and ample margins.
This is an uncommonly seen complete set of the famous moralizing plates issued in 1747 by William Hogarth (1697-1764). Previously, he had published two similar series, "A Harlot's Progress" (1731) and "Marriage à-la-Mode" (1743), which he had painted first and then converted to copper-engraved plates. "Industry and Idleness," on the other hand, was created simply and solely as a set of engravings, each of the plates selling individually for a shilling. The series is an animated and both powerful and amusing warning of the dangers of loafing on the job as well as a display of the benefits of industriousness and honesty. Two apprentices, Francis Goodchild and Thomas Idle, start out in the same weaver's studio, but their approach to their work is different from the start: in plate I, the industrious apprentice is neatly dressed, hard at work, and surrounded by improving literature. The idle one, scruffy and probably hung over, dozes at his loom while a cat toys with the shuttle, his battered apprentice's handbook on the ground and the decidedly unimproving "Moll Flanders" on a post behind him. Despite an obvious bias in the depiction, the viewer's sympathies are not infrequently drawn to the rogue apprentice rather than the priggishly virtuous one; still, the moral comes home again and again: the good boy sings in church, sharing a hymnal with a pretty girl, perhaps that same master's daughter whom he marries in a later engraving, while the bad boy gambles with his loutish friends and shacks up with a prostitute. That same strumpet subsequently turns in the rogue, who by this point is involved in stuffing a corpse into a chest, and he makes his final appearance being driven to the gallows. Meanwhile, the industrious apprentice ascends higher and higher, ending up as Lord Mayor of London. The supporting characters in these scenes are beautifully realized, and the foibles of the great and the lowly are satirized, from the wealthy merchants making gluttons of themselves at a grand banquet to the knaves brawling in a tavern and the hucksters selling souvenirs at Idle's execution. These inimitable scenes of everyday life, as fresh as Fielding's "Tom Jones," may possibly have served to instruct lazy apprentices, and they certainly have enduring value as documenting London life in all the squalor and racy splendor of the 18th century. (ST12526a-l)
Add to Cart Price: $4,000.00
PJP Catalog: 65.