The Topography of Decay

 
The Four Stages of Cruelty Plate I, First Stage of Cruelty
Title The Four Stages of Cruelty Plate I, First Stage of Cruelty
Artist William Hogarth
Date 1751 (reprinted c. 1822)
Medium Etching and engraving
Location The Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University

The Four Stages of Cruelty narrate the fictional life of criminal Tom Nero in specific sites in London. Nero personifies the city's potential for evil, a degeneration shown embedded in the urban landscape. In the first stage, Hogarth fills St. Giles Charity Schoolyard with unbearable acts of cruelty against animals, a shadow falling across the whole proceedings

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