Painter/Artist: William Hogarth

British School. Pupil of his father-in-law, Sir James Thornhill. His principal works are satirical, like The Rake’s Progress and The Election, now in the Soane Museum, and the Marriage a la Mode. He also painted portraits.


THE SHRIMP GIRL. A wonderfully vivid sketch of the head and bust of a young girl in a coarse brown dress and rough felt hat with a wide flapping brim, with a flat basket of shrimps on her head. She turns slightly to the left with eyes wide open and lips slightly parted in a bright smile.

The first that we hear of this painting is in 1781, seventeen years after Hogarth’s death, when it was engraved by Bartolozzi.


MARRIAGE n LA MODE This series of six pictures represents the ill-effects of a marriage of which the rank of the one party and the wealth of the other are the only inducing causes. The husband, a peer, proves neglectful and profligate; the lady faithless; and her lord is finally killed in a duel with her paramour, who is hanged for the murder; the suicide of the lady by poison is the closing scene of the tragedy.

The Marriage Contract.-A splendid apartment adorned with numerous pictures. The old nobleman, father of the bridegroom, points to his pedigree, while the rich alderman, father of the bride, is absorbed in the marriage settlement. The bride and bridegroom are seated, turned away from each other, on the sofa. The nature of the plot and catastrophe of the drama are indicated by the attention which the young lawyer, ” Counsellor Silvertongue,” is paying to the bride.

Shortly after the Marriage – The breakfast-room, and an inner room beyond, in which are seen cards and card-tables, candles still burning, and a sleepy servant extinguishing them. The peer, after a night’s debauch, has just entered; his wife, who has been all night at cards, is seated at breakfast. He has thrown himself carelessly on a chair, his hands in his pockets; she is yawning. An old steward with a parcel of bills and a solitary receipt is leaving the room in despair.

The Visit to the Quack Doctor -The peer rallies the doctor and an old woman for having deceived him; the latter threatens him with a knife. The young girl who is apparently the cause of the visit presents a hapless picture of deadened sympathies.

The Countess’s Dressing-Room – Her morning levee is crowded with fashionable people. ” Silvertongue,” lolling on a sofa, is presenting the Countess with a ticket for a masquerade at which the assignation is made leading to the catastrophe.

The Duel – The husband discovers his wife with her paramour; a duel ensues, and the husband is killed. The wife kneels before him imploring forgiveness. “Silvertongue” tries to escape by the window, but the watch is already there, and he is arrested.

Death of the Countess – She dies by poison in her father’s house in the City. The poison bottle lies on the floor, with ” Counsellor Silvertongue’s last dying speech.” The father is taking the rings off his daughter’s fingers. The only two of the party who show any grief are the Countess’s child, and the old nurse who is holding it up to the face of its dying mother. In the background is the apothecary rating the servant for having purchased the poison. A lean dog is stealing a pig’s head from the table on the right. On the extreme left is the back of the departing doctor.

These pictures were completed in 1744, and engraved. They were put up to auction by Hogarth in 1751, the only bidder being a Mr. Lane, who had them for L126. Mr. Angerstein subsequently bought them for L1,000, and they were purchased with his collection in 1824.