“ What a Strong Bulwark
a Coffin-Lid is , isn’t it ? ”
Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). The Funeral Company. Bidding farewell to the deceased put on in the partly open coffin at home. Engraving by Thomas Cook (c. 1744 – London 1818). Inscribed: Pl. VI. / Designed by W. Hogarth. / Engraved by T. Cook. / London Published by G. G. & J. Robinson Paternoster Row October 1st. 1799. and series title. 14 × 16⅛ in (35.5 × 41.1 cm).
Harlots Progress VI. – Impression of very fine chiaroscuro on buff paper. – The light brown staining in the white upper margin still reaching into the picture’s background, but there practically imperceptible. – Beyond that – contrary to all later Hogarth editions – in his original size. – Cook “made his mark as Hogarth engraver, too” (Thieme-Becker). – The final sheet of the set on which
“ Hogarth (has) mainly founded the great fame at first ”
(Lichtenberg). And continuing on this sheet:
“ Here now she lies finally … quiet and patient in the coffin, secure of Sir John Gonson’s (the judge) satellites, Mister M. Thwackums lashes and – Dr. Misaubins pills. What a strong bulwark a coffin-lid is, isn’t it? ”
And just one among the fifteen present – the dead, living and a picture in the mirror – is concerned about the deceased:
“ … one of Hogarth’s beauties … Yet the girl is not completely bad. Youth and flush are there at least, and to these the lesson is directed which might be represented easiest by the words from the coffin :
‘ What you are , and as you , I have been short time ago .
Leave the way you walk ; if not so bear in mind :
What I am by now you will be , too , in a short time. ’
If this chick has heard these words cannot be concluded from the little face; but that, if she had heard them, the chick will have forgotten them even before the hearse arrives, that, so I think, can be concluded. ”
The original paintings of this set of six stations in the life of a prostitute from about 1730 were destroyed by fire already about 1755 by the way.
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– – – The same in Hogarth’s own etching in the 3rd state of 1744. Inscribed: Plate 6. / † / Wm. Hogarth invt. Pinxt. et sculpt. 12⅝ × 15⅜ in (32 × 39 cm).
Nagler 17, 6; illustration Hogarth Catalogue Zurich, 1983, 18 (this state). – Extremely wide-margined impression supposedly from the plate retouched by the royal engraver James Heath (1757 London 1834) about 1822 (“Even these impressions have become relatively rare today though”, Art Gallery Esslingen 1970; and Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., VIII , 625: “A fine edition”, esteemed also already by contemporary collectors of the rank of for instance an A. T. Stewart [Catalog of the Stewart Collection, New York 1887, 1221, “fine plates”]).
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– – – The same in engraving by Carl Heinrich Rahl (Hoffenheim 1779 – Vienna 1843). (1818/23.) Inscribed: 12. / Plate 6. 8⅜ × 10⅝ in (21.2 × 27.1 cm).
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– – – The same in engraving by Ernst Ludwig Riepenhausen (1765 Göttingen 1840, university engraver there). Inscribed: 12. / Plate 6. / W. Hogarth invt. pinxt. Riepenhausen d. sc. 7⅞ × 9¾ in (20 × 24.8 cm). – Impression on especially buff paper, supposedly from about 1850. – Riepenhausen’s engravings after Hogarth (“very estimable”, Nagler) belong to his chief work and not least for being in the original direction they are partly even preferred to Hogarth’s own engravings.
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– – – The same in lithography. (1833/36.) Inscribed: 18 / Der Weg einer Buhlerin. 6tes. Blatt. 7¾ × 8⅜ in (19.6 × 21.4 cm). – Extensive caption à la Lichtenberg in German.
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„ Heute konnte ich Ihre Sendung mit dem Blatt von Ridinger … entgegennehmen. Herzlichen Dank. Es ist ein schönes Exemplar. Ich werde es klassisch rahmen lassen … Ob ich mich davon schon zur Eröffnung des … Museums trennen möchte, oder es erst nach meinem Hinscheiden den Weg dorthin finden wird, ist noch nicht bestimmt. (Es sind ja da noch die anderen  Blätter, welche ich zuvor [anderwärts] erstanden hatte …). Vorerst werde ich mit Freude den Anblick geniessen und verbleibe mit besten Grüssen … “
(Frau E. S., 2. September 2016)