Marriage A-la-Mode: 4, The Toilette

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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The fourth scene of Hogarth’s Marriage A-la-Mode takes place in the wife’s bedroom. Now a Countess, she is following the aristocratic French fashion of receiving visitors as she finishes getting dressed. A coral baby’s teether hanging from the back of her chair indicates that she has become a mother. The Countess does not look at herself in the mirror – she only has eyes for her lover Silvertongue, who offers her a ticket to a masquerade.

An opera singer and his flautist entertain the Countess’s guests while a manservant offers them cups of chocolate. A little page boy holds a statue of Actaeon, whom the chaste goddess Diana transformed into a stag and then caused to be killed by his own hounds. The boy laughs as he points at Actaeon’s antlers, which represent the horns of a cuckold (the husband of a woman who commits adultery) as the Countess has proved her husband to be.

The National Gallery, London



Marriage A-la-Mode: 4, The Toilette


about 1743


Oil on canvas


H 70.5 x W 90.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1824

Work type



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