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Cruelty in Perfection

A work made of woodcut with letterpress in black on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of woodcut with letterpress in black on ivory laid paper.




John Bell (English, 1721–1780)
after William Hogarth (English, 1697-1764)

About this artwork

Hogarth frequently used an episodic format to depict an unsavory character’s descent into debauchery, and the four-print series Four Stages of Cruelty features the artist’s most sadistic villain, Tom Nero. After impregnating a lady’s maid and convincing her to steal from her mistress and run away with him, he murders her. In John Bell’s large-scale woodcut after Hogarth, Nero is apprehended as the dead body of his lover is discovered.


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Prints and Drawings


William Hogarth


Cruelty in Perfection


England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Woodcut with letterpress in black on ivory laid paper


Image/block: 45.2 × 38.2 cm (17 13/16 × 15 1/16 in.); Sheet: 51.6 × 41.5 cm (20 3/8 × 16 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

William McCallin McKee Memorial and Robert M. Chase Endowment funds

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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