Moll's Wake William Hogarth Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Moll's Wake is the 6th part in a six series of engravings that was done by William Hogarth in 1731. The series tell of a woman whose name was Moll, in her young age she moved from the outskirts into London.

The first paintings depicts how Moll had been praised for being beautiful and was introduced to a man who was a Jewish merchant to then employ her and that’s how she came to London. In the second image she seems to have changed from being a preserved woman. This evident by the fact that she is shown to be a lover to two men, one of the lovers was the merchant.

In the 3rd painting it is now very clear that Molls depends on prostitution as her only way of survival. There is a painting of a cat next to her legs; the painting is in a certain postures that signifies Molls current body position and works of prostitution. Government officials have come to arrest her because of her evil work. She is taken to Bridewell Prison where no one including her looks not to be reforming. She eventually contracts syphilis and in the 5th plate, instead of the doctors helping her they are arguing over medical methods.

In plate referred to as Molls wake, she died in September 2nd 1731 as indicated on her coffin lid. Majority of the people around are her fellow prostitutes, they didn’t come to mourn but to take her belongings that remained. Moll’s son is very young and just plays around without any sense of understanding what’s going on. Drinks are placed on her coffin and the parson who is the religious figure spills a drink while seeming to be concentrating in moving up the skirt of another girl, she doesn’t mind or even feel concerned. Now very drunk, Molls maid mourns at the right side while holding another jug seemingly not pleased by the ill treatment of the dead girl.

Moll's maid tries to stop the disorganisation. Moll’s son seems to be very dirty because he seems to be picking pests out of his hair. His top is under his mother’s coffin and doesn’t even seem to understand the cruelty of the situation and the disease that killed his mother. Unlike the black hat in her room, the house in which her coffin is placed has a white hat that signifies the time when she first came to London when her end was beginning.