Hogarth's Marriage A-la-Mode Judy Egerton

Mixed media product
Publication date:
25 Feb 2011
National Gallery London
80 pages: 190 x 178mm
11 b-w + 34 color illus.
Sales territories:

Directing his pointed wit at the upper echelons of 18th-century British society, William Hogarth, a painter, printmaker, and social critic, mocked the politics and customs of his day. His series of satirical paintings and engravings, which still absorb viewers after nearly three centuries, record human vice and folly with a sharp eye and cutting intelligence. This compelling book, with an accompanying DVD narrated by Alan Bennett, examines Hogarth's best-known series of paintings, Marriage A-la-Mode, and unlocks many mysteries that have surrounded this gripping artistic commentary.

Marriage A-la-Mode recounts the story of a marriage arranged between the son of a spendthrift nobleman who needs cash and the daughter of a rich City of London merchant who hopes to buy social status. Love never develops, and the discordant lives of the bride and bridegroom descend into adultery and venereal disease followed by murder, execution, and suicide. Judy Egerton deciphers the visual cues and symbols Hogarth employs in his comic story of doubtful morals.

Judy Egerton is a leading authority on British painting and has previously worked at the National Gallery, London, and the Tate. She was senior research fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art from 1998 to 2006. Alan Bennett is an actor and writer of plays and films. He is a former trustee of the National Gallery, London.

"The book is a witty and perceptive explication of this famous set of 18th-century pictures and is a perfect accompaniment to a closer look at the original paintings." —Sarah Lawson, Cassone

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