Tom Enters Mental Asylum 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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Tom Enters Mental Asylum by William Hogarth is a painting from a series of work called A Rake's Progress. The paintings depict the life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a wealthy merchant. Tom's story is told in the series of paintings of which this is the final one.

Tom Rakewell came to London and wasted his money on the high life, alcohol, gambling, good times, prostitutes and other fine things. He was left destitute and was imprisoned as a result of his spree. He served time in Fleet Prison and Bedlam (Bethlehem Hospital, which is now the Maudsley).

The series of eight paintings tell from the beginning of how Tom came into his fortune when his father died, rejected his pregnant fiance and headed to London, where he enjoyed music and parties, which descended into orgies, where, in the third picture, Tom is depicted as being robbed by prostitutes while drunk. Picture four shows Tom being saved from arrested by his rejected but faithful fiance, and picture five, Tom marries a rich older woman to prevent his destitution, while his rejected fiance arrives with their baby. In Picture seven, Tom is imprisoned for debt and starts to go insane.

Tom Enters Mental Asylum is the last in the series of eight paintings, depicting his descent into insanity after imprisonment. The painting is 39 inches by 26 inches, and is worth 2.25 million on its own. In the Picture, Tom is admitted to Bedlam, insane and violent and is among other patients with problems. Some women look on, they have turned up to be entertained. Tom's former bride-to-be and mother of his child, Sarah Young, is there for him, still loving and supporting him after his wild behaviour and rejection of her, but he ignores her.

William Hogarth 10 November 1697 – 26 October 1764, was an 18th Century artist, satirist and printer, he produced the series between 1732 and 1735, they are known as one of his 'Moral Works' Series. The whole series of paintings are owned by the Sir John Sloane Museum in London, UK. The paintings are open to viewing by the general public. The series is extremely detailed, with much more to see than a first glance will discover.