This painting is part of the group: Marriage A-la-Mode

The first of Hogarth's satirical moralising series of engravings that took the upper echelons of society as its subject was 'Marriage A-la-Mode'. The paintings were models from which the engravings would be made. The engravings reverse the compositions.

In this, the second in the series of paintings, the marriage of the Viscount and the merchant's daughter is quickly proving a disaster. The tired wife, who appears to have given a card party the previous evening, is at breakfast in the couple's expensive house which is now in disorder. The Viscount returns exhausted from a night spent away from home, probably at a brothel: the dog sniffs a lady's cap in his pocket. Their steward, carrying bills and a receipt, leaves the room to the left, his hand raised in despair at the disorder.

The decoration of the room again comments on the action. The picture over the mantlepiece shows Cupid among ruins. In front of it is a bust with a broken nose, symbolising impotence.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1697 - 1764
Full title
Marriage A-la-Mode: 2, The Tête à Tête
Group
Date made
about 1743
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
69.9 x 90.8 cm
Inscription summary
Inscribed
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1824
Inventory number
NG114
Location in Gallery

Other paintings in the group: Marriage A-la-Mode

Painting
William Hogarth
about 1743
William Hogarth: 'Marriage A-la-Mode: 1, The Marriage Settlement'
Painting
William Hogarth
about 1743
William Hogarth: 'Marriage A-la-Mode: 3, The Inspection'
Painting
William Hogarth
about 1743
William Hogarth: 'Marriage A-la-Mode: 4, The Toilette'
Painting
William Hogarth
about 1743
William Hogarth: 'Marriage A-la-Mode: 5, The Bagnio'
Painting
William Hogarth
about 1743
William Hogarth: 'Marriage A-la-Mode: 6, The Lady's Death'