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.