The Industrious 'Prentice a Favourite, and Entrusted by his Master William Hogarth Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

The fourth plate of William Hogarth's Industry and Idleness series is entitled The Industrious 'Prentice a Favourite, and Entrusted by his Master. Francis has now earned his reward for his industriousness and has been granted greater responsibility by the master weaver, Mr West.

On the right, Mr. West can be seen approving of Francis' hard work. With one hand rested upon Francis' shoulder, the other hand shows Mr. West presenting Francis with his greater position over the shop floor. Below both of them is a desk on which can be found two gloves shaking hands. This symbolises the good relations between Francis and Mr. West. It also acts as foreshadowing for the later pieces in this set. Francis is holding a set of keys, a pouch of money, and a large book. These are the fruits of his hard labour and his piety, which can be seen in the first and second pieces of this set.

We now see multiple women working looms in the background, perhaps an indication that Mr. West is now seeing greater success in his business. A porter carrying rolls of cloth to Mr. West can be seen on the left. He wears the coat-of-arms of the City of London, which gives a location to this work. He is accompanied by a dog, which is growling at a cat located on the raised platform where Francis and Mr. West stand. Again employing the biblical passages to affirm the value of industriousness, this piece uses a passage from Matthew 25:21, "Well done good and faithfull servant thou hast been faithfull over a few things, I will make thee Ruler over many things."

Francis has been made ruler in a sense over the affairs of the business because he has been good and faithful. Good because he has worked diligently in the first piece; faithful because he has piously attended his duties as a Christian in the second piece. Hogarth completed The Industrious 'Prentice a Favourite, and Entrusted by his Master in 1747 by way of etching and engraving. Although not on display, the original piece is now located at the British Museum in London.