Moll Beats Hemp in Bridewell Prison 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

If painters went the extra mile into writing the ideas besides each painting, artworks would have been the most boring of pieces. The naked photos incline lovers of portraits towards the old thoughts making it appealing to ponder on some ideas.

The connected dots of views on a caricature will cause someone to either buy or discard an artistic piece. Some of these interestingly connected dots in works like Moll Beats Hemp in Bridewell Prison narrate an event in a series of paintings by the English painter William Hogarth. The art comes forth in his six series of A Harlot's Progress. The six pictures are narrative pieces, narrating how Moll, an innocent back laid country girl found herself in a brothel, became a mistress to a wealthy merchant and lived an expensive life before she decided to venture into prostitution.

Moll is then arrested and taken to Bridewell prison with a slow but sure progression of untreated syphilis she had contracted earlier. On the fourth piece Moll Beats Hemp in Bridewell Prison the richly dressed Moll in a white heavy Cinderella gown with dotted face to suggest the advancement of the infection, is seen beating hemp with a mallet (the hemp would later be used to make hangman’s noose). Standing next to her is a jail warden who seems to be beating her up.

In the satirical piece, the wife of the warden (apparently) is seen trying to untie Moll’s clothing at the back with an intent to steal wink. On the foreground, Moll's female servant is seen smiling while showing off Moll's shoes that she is wearing. On Moll's left, her fellow jailbirds featuring a child and a pregnant woman aligned according to their wealth are also pounding hemp.

Hogarth’s series of the prostitute's narrative could not feature into one painting and with his creative mind, he decided to give the story in anecdotes. Other works he did beside the series include Taste in High Life, Debtor’s Prison, Marriage A-la-Mode and The Industrious Prentice Out Of His Time and Married His Master's Daughter among other series. Most of Hogarth's paintings which he originally engraved burnt down though some survived and were sold out to painters who painted and distributed them. His love for satire influenced the likes of caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson who also engraved his works. One of his famous pieces includes Satan, Sin, and Death.