"[Set of 4 - Four Stages of Cruelty]", Hogarth, William
Period: 1799 (dated)
Color: Black & White
12.5 x 15.7 inches
31.8 x 39.9 cm
The Four Stages of Cruelty are among the most startling engravings of the 18th century. They present a moral lesson and are perhaps best described in Hogarth's own words; "The four stages of cruelty, were done in hopes of preventing in some degree that cruel treatment of poor Animals which makes the streets of London more disagreeable to the human mind, than any thing what ever, the very describing of which gives pain.... but it could not be done in too strong a manner as the most stony heart(s) were meant to be effected by them…" The final print shows the "Reward of Cruelty" with the villain being dissected by surgical students in a public forum. It has been argued that Hogarth designed the prints as propaganda in support of the Murder Act of 1752, which decreed that the bodies of convicted murderers were to be displayed in chains or handed over to the surgeons for dissection. Engraved by T. Cook and published by G.G & J Robinson.
Overall fine impressions with minor soil in margins. Old light crease on one print.