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A Rake's Progress - 4. The Drinking Scene (A Graphic Tale comprising 16 Etchings) (1961-63)

David Hockney

etching and aquatint on paper

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

A Rake's Progress - 4. The Drinking Scene (A Graphic Tale comprising 16 Etchings) (1961-63)

© the artist Photo credit: The Whitworth, The University of Manchester






Physical Object Description:

Portfolio of 16 prints. Etching and partly in aquatint printed in two colours, 30 x 40, on sheet, 49.5 x 62. Each print inscribed, just below plate, ‘34/50’ bottom left, and ‘David Hockney’ bottom right. Standard title for the suite, ‘A RAKE’S PROGRESS/ LONDON/NEW YORK 1961–62/PLATE NO.’, followed by the number and title of the individual print. The position of the title-inscription in each print is indicated above. Each print also embossed, bottom right, with publisher’s device, ‘ea’ [Editions Alecto].


Aquatint, Etching


20 x 24.25 cm

Accession Number:



Gifted through the Contemporary Art Society, as a bequest from Dr Ronald Lande, in memory of his life partner Walter Urech, 2011



Ownership history:

Lewis M. Kaplan, London; bought by Dr Ronald Lande (-2010), 1973; by whom bequeathed to the Contemporary Art Society to be gifted to a museum, in memory of his life partner Walter Urech, 2010; presented to The Whitworth (Whitworth Art Gallery), The University of Manchester, 2011
A Rake’s Progress (1961-3) is a semi-autobiographical story about the young artist David Hockney, the ‘rake’, and the down and outs of his visit to New York in July 1961. The format, story and numbering system is based on William Hogarth’s 1735 set of prints of the same title. Hogarth’s 18th-century prints tell of the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, a spendthrift son and heir of a rich merchant, who comes to London, wastes all his money on luxurious living, prostitution and gambling, and as a consequence is imprisoned in the Fleet Prison and ultimately Bedlam.

Originally Hockney’s intention was to produce 24 etchings, as a book; however, this was later reduced down to 16 etchings and partly in aquatint and printed by C. H. Welch, London in two colours. It was published as a portfolio in December 1963 by Editions Alecto Ltd, in association with the Royal College of Art where Hockney was still at student. He tells the story of arriving in New York, receiving money, dying his hair blonde, marrying an old maid, losing money, with his eventual fate not the Bedlam prison but Bedlam, the mindless masses of the ‘other people’, the only way of distinguishing the ‘rake’ from the other robotic figures is by a small arrow above his head, he has finally been subsumed into the uniform crowd where personal identity has disappeared.

Hockney says that he was particularly struck by the fact that in New York the bars and public houses were never shut; the scene of a typical American bar is depicted in plate 4, the ‘BE’ being part of the word ‘Beer’.

All rights reserved. Any further use will need to be cleared with the rights holder. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited. The collection that owns this artwork may have more information on their own website about permitted uses and image licensing options.

For further information, please consult our section of our copyright policy.

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