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Happiest Day: Wedding Customs in Transition

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The Marriage Settlement, plate I from Marriage à la mode, after William Hogarth

18th century
44.3 cm x 57 cm (17 7/16 in. x 22 7/16 in.)

William Hogarth (London, 1697 - 1764, London) Primary
Gérard Jean-Baptiste Scotin II (Paris, France, 1698 - after 1755) Engraver

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, English
Medium and Support: Etching and engraving
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Teaching Collection of Marvin Vexler, '48, 1997
Accession Number: 1997.45.1/6

This print is from a series of six engravings that is based on a progress of six paintings completed by Hogarth around 1743. As with most of Hogarth’s prints, the plates were actually carried out by French engravers. Hogarth employed them for their skill in the tradition of finely differentiated line engraving. The series was aimed at the upper middle class and aristocracy. With mocking theatricality, the six plates depict stages in the lives of an unhappily betrothed couple, starting with the negotiations of the marriage agreement by their fathers. The narrative moves through the couple's increasingly catastrophic marriage, to the wife's suicide, a bottle of laudanum at her feet. Consistent with Hogarth's other satirical and didactic works, the series criticizes the abuse of rank and status, the arrangement and casual treatment of marriage, irresponsible parenthood, and other social ills of the day.

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