British painter and engraver William Hogarth is best known for his engravings depicting sequential satirical images from contemporary urban life. He is particularly well known for series such as A Harlot's Progress (1732), A Rake's Progress (1735) and Marriage à la Mode (1745). He was one of the artists who initiated the Engravers’ Copyright Act in 1735 and during his lifetime, had complete control over the dissemination of his prints. After his death in 1764, his widow Jane Hogarth sold his plates to the printseller and engraver John Boydell who published the bound volume of The Original Work of William Hogarth in 1790. The plates were then bought in 1818 by the publisher Baldwin, Cradock and Joy where they were reworked by the engraver James Heath and republished in 1822.
The engravings of Hogarth include both individual sheets and bound editions which are housed across several locations in Special Collections. Donors of the sheets include Dr J. Orde Poynton, additionally a set of A Rake's Progress was purchased on the advice of Professor Joseph Burke with funds from the Potter Foundation. Professor Burke (1913–1992) was the inaugural Herald professor of fine arts at the University of Melbourne. He was a Hogarth scholar and wrote his dissertation on Hogarth and then published two books on the artist in 1955 and 1968. The 1822 edition of Hogarth’s works, housed in the Print Collection, was Burke’s personal copy which he subsequently donated to the Library.