Skip to main content
Marriage A-la-Mode: 2, The Tête à Tête
William Hogarth
/

This is the second in Hogarth’s series of six paintings titled Marriage A-la-Mode. It is a few months after the wedding of the Earl of Squander’s son to the Alderman’s daughter. The bride stretches sleepily, apparently after spending the whole night playing cards. The groom sprawls in his chair, exhausted from a night of debauchery on the town – the small dog tugs a girl’s muslin cap out of his pocket, and a second muslin cap is wound round the hilt of his broken sword. The large black spot on his neck denotes syphilis.

Two fiddle cases lie on top of one another on an overturned chair, suggesting that the Viscountess has been spending the evening in activities more intimate than simply playing whist. The drawing room is a battleground for the silent dislike between the couple and the disharmony of their possessions. The steward of the household rolls his eyes up to heaven as he exits with a wad of unpaid bills.

Key facts
Artist William Hogarth
Artist dates 1697 - 1764
Full title Marriage A-la-Mode: 2, The Tête à Tête
Group Marriage A-la-Mode
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 Not on display
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo

Marriage A-la-Mode

/

For centuries, the English have been fascinated by the sexual exploits and squalid greed of the aristocracy, and these are the subjects of the six-part series Marriage A-la-Mode, which illustrates the disastrous consequences of marrying for money rather than love. The basic story is of a marriage arranged by two self-seeking fathers – a spendthrift nobleman who needs cash and a wealthy City of London merchant who wants to buy into the aristocracy. It was Hogarth’s first moralising series satirising the upper classes.

The six pictures were painted in about 1743 to be engraved and then offered for sale after the engravings were finished. The engravings are uncoloured, reversed versions of the paintings. Published in 1745, the engravings were offered to subscribers at a guinea a set. They proved instantly popular and gave Hogarth’s work a wide audience. The paintings were offered for sale by twelve noon on 6 June 1751, but only attracted two bidders, one of whom bought them all for £126.

;