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Print - The Idle Prentice
  • The Idle Prentice
    Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10
  • Enlarge image

The Idle Prentice

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1747 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand-coloured etching and engraving

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case J, shelf 4, box B

Physical description

Etched and engraved print from a series commissioned by Parliament depicting the notions of industry and idleness. The scene is the public execution at the so-called Tyburn Tree, teeming with crowds of people, with men on horseback holding spears along the left hand side. There are a range of facial expressions on the faces of the people in the foreground, including two young boys laughing and pointing at a man whose legs are submerged in the mud, a man on crutches straining to see above the crowd, a man holding a puppy by its tail and a group of outraged looking fruit sellers in the right foreground. The central figure, with her back turned on the scene, has a look of horror on her face, clasping a message on a sheet of paper and holding a baby. There is a cart carrying a coffin alongside women reading bibles, one of whom proselytises to the crowd. Raked seating flanks the right hand side of the scene close to the unusual triangular structure serving as the famous gallows. At the top of the scene is lettered the title, with a proverb from the bible inscribed beneath, alongside two hanging skeletons on either side of the picture.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1747 (made)


Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Hand-coloured etching and engraving

Marks and inscriptions

The IDLE PRENTICE Executed at Tyburn

Proverbs CHAP. 1, Vers: 27, 28.

When fear cometh as desolation, and their destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress cometh upon them, then they shall call upon God but he will not answer.

Plate 11

Design'd & Engrav'd by Wm Hogarth, Publish'd according to Act of Parliament Sept. 30. 1747


Height: 28 cm, Width: 42 cm

Object history note

The gallows depicted were the first permanent gallows set up in Tyburn in 1571. Londoners were also executed at Smithfield and Tower Hill. However, by the 18th century, Tyburn Tree, a triangular gallows, became the main place for public executions in London until it was replaced by Newgate in 1783. The gallows at Tyburn stood near the present-day Marble Arch, at the north-east edge of Hyde Park.

Descriptive line

Hand-coloured print by William Hogarth entitled 'The Idle Prentice', the penultimate plate from a set of 12 entitled 'Industry and Idleness'. Great Britain, 1747.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Miller, Elizabeth. Hand Coloured British Prints. London: Published by Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1987.


Paper; Inks


Etching; Engraving

Subjects depicted

Skeleton; Execution; Crowd; Market; Gallows; Coffin


Death; Prints


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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