Marriage à La Mode, Plate 2, "The Breakfast Scene"

William Hogarth

English, 1697 - 1764

Richard Earlom

British, 1743 - 1822

Marriage à la Mode, Plate 2, "The Breakfast Scene", 1796

  • Not On View

Engraving on paper

Dimensions: 18 1/2 × 24 in. (47 × 61 cm)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Mott, 1964.26

As the second installment in the marriage series, The Breakfast Scene offers the first indication of how the bond between the couple is developing. Relying once again on disguised symbolism, the artist embeds iconographic (i.e. symbolic) meaning into everyday things. Here, the sly look on the young woman's face, along with her less-than-lady-like pose, discloses that she has been up to no good, while her husband has been out for the evening. He returns home depleted from his exploits, only to be exposed for his evening of debauchery as the family dog pulls a lady's cap from his pocket (not his wife's). The room's disorder, including the upset chair, partially open instrument case (note two violins), and the state of undress of the young couple, implies that the Viscount perhaps interrupted his wife's flirtations with another man. Symbols of lust and wastefulness continue to mark the young couple's lifestyle; they have evidently learned to copy all of the bad habits of their parents. A "cabinet painting," (erotic painting) for example, hangs on the wall in the other room, where the foot of a nude behind a curtain is still visible.

Image Permissions

Explore Related Objects


Poemes de Charles d’Orléans, 1950
Henri Émile Matisse

Lithograph on paper
2007.86


Derrière le miroir (Behind the Mirror), 1957
Henri Émile Matisse

Lithograph on paper
2010.201


Marriage à la Mode, Plate 1, "The Marriage Contract", 1795
William Hogarth

Engraving on paper
1964.25


Marriage à la Mode, Plate 4, "The Toilette", 1798
William Hogarth

Engraving on paper
1964.28


Nude, 1977
Philip Pearlstein

Lithograph on paper
1987.44