Happy 315th Birthday, William Hogarth!

Born November 10, 1697, satirist and social commentator William Hogarth enjoyed enormous popularity both in his lifetime and after his death. He is best known for his multi-part morality series, including the six-part “Marriage à la Mode” (including The Settlement and The Tête à Tête), currently hanging at The National Gallery in London, or the series “A Rake’s Progress”, on display at Sir John Soane’s Museum, also in London. The latter depicts the life of Tom Rakewell, son of a wealthy merchant, as he wastes his life spending lavishly, gambling, and soliciting prostitutes, before dying in London’s famed Bedlam mental hospital. Displayed to great acclaim when completed, “A Rake’s Progress” has since served as inspiration for artists, musicians, and writers alike. In 1951, celebrated Russian composer Igor Stravinsky composed an opera entitled The Rake’s Progress, enlisting poets W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman to script the libretto. Loosely based on Hogarth’s eight paintings and engravings, the opera has been a mainstay in repertories since its first production. For its revival at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1975, David Hockney designed a sequence of moving stage sets and costumes. “This is like The Phantom of the Opera of the opera world,” Hockney said.

See Hockney’s sets and costumes here, and watch an introduction to Hockney’s production here .

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