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Hogarth’s first self-conceived, self-created, and self-published story without text, A Harlot’s Progress, was an unqualified success. Reading the clues in the first image of this series, an unaccompanied lass with the initials “M H” on her trunk has arrived in London by wagon from York. She is befriended by an old woman whom Londoners in 1732 would have recognized as Mother Needham, a notorious procuress and proprietor of a fashionable house of ill repute. Also recognizable in the doorway is Colonel Francis Charteris, an infamous seducer of innocent country girls.
William George Sullivan; given to the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art, in 1930.