Hogarth prints - The Four Stages of Cruelty

Hogarth prints - The Four Stages of Cruelty
Circa 1800
The Four Stages of Cruelty, copper engravings. Hogarth was perhaps the first Animal Rights campaigner. These engravings were intended to show how cruelty to animals leads to moral degeneration and murder.
The extended moral of the whole series, therefore, is that cruel children, if left unchecked by society, become cruel adults. Hogarth suggests that it is a natural progression from Nero’s abuse of animals to his life of crime, culminating in his vicious attack on another human being. Only then, belatedly, does the establishment intervene with an act of legalized violence, hanging. The final scene continues the theme to startling and ironic effect, when, after execution, Nero’s body is brutally and gratuitously dissected, watched by lawyers, surgeons, clerics and gentleman onlookers.

1. First Stage of Cruelty.
Boys being cruel to small animals.

2. Second Stage of Cruelty.
Men exploiting domestic animals. An overladen horse, a man kills a sheep in the street, bull baiting and a child is run over by a wagon.

3. Cruelty in Perfection.
Tom Nero has murdered his girlfriend by cutting her throat, after inducing her to steal her mistress's jewels, and is arrested by an angry mob when found standing over the body.

4. The Reward of Cruelty.
This famous last plate in the series shows the body of the executed Tom Nero (the rope still around his neck) being dissected in the Surgeon's Theatre Old Bailey (conveniently close to Newgate Prison) by Hogarth's friend Dr John Freke of St. Bartholomew's Hospital.

William HOGARTH (1697-1764)


16.54 inches
19.29 inches
This item is sold

Purchase Information

As this is not an e-commerce website purchases need to be made with communication with ourselves via email, telephone or by visiting our shop. Our aim is to make your experience as simple as possible, we therefore provide our bank details on our invoices so as online payments can be made easily or we accept all major credit and debit cards. We also accept American Express and for overseas clients, unless paying by Bacs, this would be our preferred method of payment.

Terms of payment can be agreed. We can offer various options of payment made over a period of time depending on the price of the item.


For overseas purchases we can obtain competitive shipping quotes. Deliveries within the UK are carried out either by our preferred carriers of by Lennox Cato himself. Charges for delivery are either added into the cost of the item or added separately. This depends on the final negotiation.

Try It & See

If you visit our Services page you will see, we offer a ‘Try It & See’ option. This service is primarily for those considering a large item such as a piece of furniture, mirror etc.

To View our Terms and Conditions of Sale Click Here