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we're in the National Gallery in London and we're looking at a set of six paintings by william Hogarth who's best known for making prints not paintings 18th century is an interesting moment especially in England and France where we have the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and as a result a widening middle-class that wants to buy art you have the landed aristocracy which is in some ways beginning to lose power to a new merchant class that is becoming powerful because it's becoming wealthy so whereas before he had art that was serving the aristocracy princes monarchs the church we now begin to have art that is needed for this growing middle class audience and we have prints that are being sold to a wide public and art becoming a commodity something that large numbers of people buy and prints are a lot less expensive than paintings and regards intent here was to use these paintings as a model for the prints that he was going to produce and then he would sell his prints for about a shilling a piece now that was more than a working-class person could afford but it was well within the means of this new middle class so Hogarth is becoming a kind of artist entrepreneur something that might be very familiar to us in the 21st century when art is still so closely allied to commerce to galleries to money making and this is so targeted to that new middle class because it is a very deeply moral set of images but it's also a set of images that is full of fun and makes fun of the aristocracy so the entire set is known as marriage Allah mode and prompted by this concern in the 18th century that marriages were sometimes arranged for economic benefit rather than for love married a la mode means modern marriage or the marriage of the day the entire series these six paintings tell the story of an aristocratic family named wonderfully the squander fields suggesting that they've squandered their aristocratic fortune and lured squander field has to have his son marry the daughter of a wealthy merchant so he can maintain his estate and all his worldly possessions and the wealthy merchants daughter gets in return the aristocratic title so what we have is in exchange it is a kind of economic deal that's taking place that's being brokered here so let's look at the painting on the right we see Lord squander fields he's pointing to his family tree which agains with a medieval knight suggesting what he's bringing to the table is this great lineage over on the far left you see his son in blue and he's picking some snuff out of a box and he looks really like a dilettante well he's actually looking in the mirror - sort of gazing at his own reflection so we have no sympathy for him whatsoever and the woman behind him who he's going to marry he has his back - he's not paying any attention to her this is an arranged marriage the woman is being talked into it someone we're gonna see later in the story his name is silver tongue and he's a counselor so clearly Hogarth has made me fun of him and talking about him as a kind of smooth talker what's interesting is the way that Lords squander filled with his doubt ridden foot he's situated in between the family tray and this dowry that he's being paid and he's saying look I'm bringing a lot to the table here I've got this long aristocratic lineage this money that's piled up this isn't even enough for me well that's because if you look out the window he's building a new mansion and he needs to finance that we see a lawyer at the table and we also see the merchant himself that is that young woman's father and they're attending to the business transaction but the architect stares out the window at the building that he's dreaming of construct so everybody is in this for their own self-interest with the exception of the young couple the young man self involved the young woman looks inconsolable but these two individuals will add to the disaster that is their end here so let's move to the second canvas this is tete-a-tete which means head to head face to face the husband has come home from a night of Oh gambling and drinking and and womanizing and women I so how can we tell well the dog sniffing at what looks like a woman's bonnet in his pocket and he looks like he hasn't slept at all but his wife looks like she's had some fun of her own while her husband was away her bodice is undone she looks sartatia saz though perhaps her lover has just left when her husband's come home she seems to be signaling with a mirror held above her head to her lover perhaps the chair is overturned and instrument is on the floor our music book is open there's an implication that lovemaking has taken place here and has just ended when the husband has come home and music was a traditional symbol of pleasure and sensuality and lovemaking and in the room just past where they are we see images of saints so we have Hogarth commenting on the immorality of this couple and to make sure that we don't miss these signals Hogarth has placed a third figure in the foreground he's a kind of accountant and you can see that he's had it he holds receipts he holds bills and he's thrown his hands up he can't get this young couple to take their finances seriously and if you look at the mantelpiece we've got all sorts of knickknacks lined up there that look like they've been recently purchased and look inexpensive and gaudy compared to this aristocratic environment with these oil paintings and gilded frames well that's the contrast that's important I think for Hogarth here he's making this sharp distinction between these tawdry things that they've brought in this young couple and the classicism that is a part of this aristocratic life the aristocracy has this reputation that they've inherited these values that have accrued to them over centuries but their values that don't reflect the reality of their lives you can also say an addition perhaps a painting that the man has brought in it's partially obscured by a curtain and all that's visible is a nude foot on a bed olá and so this would have been a very clear signal in the 18th century to a glued painting so in all of these paintings actually the artwork really tells a meta story they comment on the scene that it's being enacted and we can see that right over the mantel we have a classical sculpture but its nose is broken as if it had been knocked over at some party and behind it a painting of Cupid among the ruins that is love itself is here ruined love itself has become a disaster let's look at the third painting this campus is called the inspection and it takes place in a doctor's office the apothecary or the doctor on the Left seems to be cleaning his glasses which makes one worried about the kind of inspection he's going to perform and the woman behind him is obviously his assistant but they're both clearly suffering from syphilis this is an important point lord squander filled the younger lord squander field actually has a sign of syphilis which is that large black form on his neck and we see that throughout his canvases and so we know he is likely visiting prostitutes he is living it a life of debauchery right from the beginning and clearly infecting his young wife and here it clearly has infected a young woman who he's brought with him to the doctor's office who seems to be applying some kind of ointment to a sore on her mouth I mean it's it's just it's ghastly and so hogarth is doing everything he can to remove any kind of sympathy we could possibly have for this young man he seems to be saying to the apothecary your medicine isn't working give me my money back well the woman seems to be quite angered by that whereas the apothecary himself seems to be not particularly concerned but look at the kind of character that hogarth brings to the rendering of these figures the apothecary himself that's just a disreputable face but again the surroundings tell us something about the figures in the medical cabinet we see a model of a human figure next to a skeletal model and even on the left side we see a skull which is also a symbol of death but no one is taking seriously the fact that they're going to die one day in fact the young Lords squander field here seems to be in a very good mood let's move on to the fourth campus and this one is called the toilet so that means here that the woman is at her dressing table having her hair done she's getting all dressed up she's having her makeup done and she's surrounded by her friends notice that she's not with her child we do have an indication that she's had a child because we have a string of coral beads that would have been used for teething for children but her child is nowhere in sight she's not a good mother she's hanging out with her friends instead she's in her bedroom and her bedroom is his very public place which is not so uncommon for the aristocracy but we see on the left for a second time now the councillor silver tongue and he looks right at home now this to the 18th century would have suggested that he was actually illicitly the young woman's lover now and remember he was the one who's trying to talk her into the marriage to console her and he has taken full advantage and there's music making and drinking obviously figures who are also suffering from syphilis the figure on the far right seems to be holding tickets and pointing to an image of a masked ball the paintings on the wall that we're seeing are also important and make a kind of comment on the scene that we see paintings that are about the trespassing of norms of behavior and of course that's exactly what this painting is about two of the paintings on the wall are about Zeus disguising himself in order to have a love affair and that's exactly what we're going to see actually in the next scene so here it's night this is the fifth painting and here we're no longer in an aristocratic house we're in a place of disrepute this is the kind of room that you would hire when you didn't want anybody to know what you were doing and what we see is the young woman on her knees as her lover that would be silver tongued flees out the window he's fleeing because he has just impaled her husband with his sword she's beseeching him asking for forgiveness because silver tongue and the young woman were caught in the act and they had clearly been at a masked ball we see their discarded clothing we see a mask so in the last scene Hogarth sums up by showing the death of the woman so now the husband and the wife are dead the wife has died because she's poisoned herself when she's read in the newspaper that's at her feet that her lover silver tongue has been hanged for the murder of her husband that's right and we see the nurse bringing her her child to say goodbye to its mother I mean it's a terrible scene we also see a syphilis spot on the child's cheek so we know that the child is sick this couple is irredeemable and the entire practice of a marriage that's based on this kind of economic exchange instead of love is really indicted well look her very father is taking a gold ring from her finger even as she lays dying and the dog on the right is another symbol of greediness as it steals meat from the table and not just meat but a pig's head actually and we can see that we're back in her home this is not the aristocratic family of the squander fields and you can see the Thames River just outside you can see the city crowding in and it's a reminder of the way in which London had changed so radically in the 18th century so the great Victorian novelist Thackeray wrote about the set of six paintings and summed up the moral he wrote don't listen to evil silver-tongued councillors don't marry a man for his rank or a woman for her money don't frequent foolish auctions and masquerade balls unknown to your husband don't have wicked companions abroad and neglect your wife otherwise you will be run through the body and ruin will ensue and disgrace and Tyburn Tyburn is the place where criminals would be hanged you
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