William Hogarth

British, b.1697, d.1764

Industry And Idleness The Fellow ’Prentices At Their Looms (Plate I)

  • Engraving
  • Purchased, 1978
  • 264 x 340mm
  • 78/214

Leading eighteenth-century painter, printmaker, social critic and satirist William Hogarth would describe his Industry and Idleness engraving series as ‘calculated for the use & Instruction of Youth’. The twelve works reveal the destinies of two fellow apprentices, starting with this print, set in a workroom in Spitalfields, then the centre of London’s silk-weaving industry. Tom Idle is asleep at his loom, after a night of drinking. Francis Goodchild attends diligently to his task. Through an inevitable progression of cause and effect, the series follows Tom to his end by public hanging, whereas Francis becomes Lord Mayor of London. The Industry and Idleness prints were said to have sold particularly well at Christmas as ‘improving’ gifts from masters to their apprentices.

(Leaving for Work 2 October 2021 - 1 May 2022)

Exhibition History