Tom in a Gambling Den 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

This painting by William Hogarth is part of a series 'A Rake's Progress' that he created to tell the story of Tom Rakewell and his adventures in squandering his inheritance on women,, alcohol and gambling until he ends up destitue in a madhouse.

The painting was created between 1732 and 1735. The work is an oil on canvas of unknown dimensions, the painting depicts Tom pleading to the Lord for assistance in the riotous gaming house, while fire breaks out behind the rowdy gamblers without their notice as alcohol and gambling consumes them. The whole of the painting is overshadowed by a dark brown gloomy colour, and there is little or no natural light in the den, which is lit by candles, even the floor is that same dark brown in the foreground. Tom is the leading character in a foom full of people with all kinds of positions and expressions.

Tom is dressed in silver pantaloons and a light blue smock and coat and white shirt, he is down on one knee and holds one arm heavenwards and has a desperate expression on his face, he is completely bald, his wig lies next to him on the ground. Next to Tom on the right, clerks keep score at a table, protected by a wooden rail. To the other side of Tom, men sit and talk, one glancing slyly at him. There are several gambling tables behind, some out of sight among the people one still being played, another a large grey table with overturned apparatus and a hand reaching out, and behind that, men are fighting with swords, one with a lantern in his hand, one man pleads drunkenly with another.

The men wear a mixture of hats and wigs or are bare-headed. The tall dark walls of the room reach up to a dark ceiling and at the back to the left is an archway which presumably is the entrance and exit to the room. The scene is one of chaos and confusion emotions including anger and fear are running riot. Human life and despair at its worst, carefully and meticulously depicted. There is fear in the eyes of those who notice the sword fights while other occupants of the room are too drunk and despairing to care. There are no smiles in the room, there is no light either physically or emotionally.