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>   Marriage à la Mode Plate 6 (The Death of the Countess)
Marriage à la Mode Plate 6 (The Death of the Countess)
17.5'' x 21.63''
Engraving with etching
1745

Marriage à la Mode, a series of six etchings by English engraver and painter William Hogarth, was printed as social commentary for the 18th- century audience comparable to our modern dramas. In this series Hogarth focuses on the misery of an arranged marriage between the daughter of an upper-class merchant family and the son of a destitute noble family attempting to maintain their wealthy status. At a time when arranged marriages were the subject of numerous deliberations, this series exemplifies Hogarth’s belief in its dangers as he depicts the unflattering and tragic events of the bride and groom and their respective families.

The concluding print of this series takes place in the home of the young widow’s family. Hysterical after hearing the news of her lover Silvertongue's execution for the slaying of her husband, she has attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. As she takes her last breaths, her young child is held up for her to see one last time. Standing at her side is her father who is seen stealing from his dying daughter as he slips her wedding ring from her finger. Ultimately, Hogarth has depicted the tragic fates of those obsessed with greed and the terrible consequences of their decisions.

Printed by Gérard Scotin