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1735 series of engravings, by William Hogarth chronicling the life of "Tom Rakewell," who starts as a young man coming into family money. The series was intended as a cautionary tale, showing the results of debauchery.

Plate 1: Tom is being measured for new clothes and trying to pay off his pregnant fiancee, Sarah Young.

Plate 2: Tom is surrounded by people trying to sell him fencing lessons, dancing lessons, and other aristocratic skills.

Plate 3: Tom is at a party, drunk, with a woman reaching into his shirt and another undressing for an erotic dance.

Plate 4: Tom, wig falling over his eyes, is arrested for debt. A shocked Sarah points to him in the public square (and is supposed to have bailed him out with money she earned as a milliner).

Plate 5: Tom is seen married to an ugly rich old woman so that he can keep on with his new lifestyle.

Plate 6: Tom is shown in a gambling house, losing his second fortune.

Plate 7: Tom is shown in debtor's prison. (Sarah faints at the seriousness of his situation.)

Plate 8: Tom is seen in Bedlam Asylum, with a lunatic dressed as a tailor measuring him for a shroud.

Also, Igor Stravinsky created an opera based on Hogarth's series.

What follows is a concise synopsis of Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress. W.H. Auden and Stravinsky began work on the libretto together in Los Angeles on 15 November 1947. Chester Kallman eventually became involved in the process, which at first irritated Stravinsky. In the end however, the opera became something all parties were proud of. From Stravinsky's journal:
Early next morning, primed by coffee and whiskey(!) we began work on The Rake. Starting with a hero, a heroine and a villain and having decided these people should be a tenor, a soprano and a bass we proceeded to invent a series of scenes leading up to the final scene in Bedlam, that was already fixed in our minds. We followed Hogarth closely at first and continued until our own story began to assume a different signifigance.

(Synopsis removed for copyright reasons. - Ed.)

Source: John W. Freeman

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