Marriage à La Mode, Plate 5, "The Death Of The Viscount And The Escape Of His Wife's Lover"

William Hogarth

English, 1697 - 1764

Richard Earlom

British, 1743 - 1822

Marriage à la Mode, Plate 5, "The Death of the Viscount and the Escape of His Wife's Lover", 1800

  • Not On View

Engraving on paper

Dimensions: 19 1/4 × 24 1/2 in. (48.9 × 62.2 cm)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Mott, 1964.29

Here the Viscount finds his wife with her lover, who is escaping out of the window, having fatally stabbed the Viscount with his sword, which lies bloodied on the floor. The evening's interrupted frivolities are represented by the masks and accessories from the masquerade, which lie on the floor next to the lethal weapon. Curiously, the portrait of the busty, sly woman on the back wall covers up another image, which shows a man's lower legs coming out from behind the picture. Notwithstanding the lack of inhibitions typically associated with the deception of putting on another identity, masquerades were also associated with the perceived sins of prostitution and cross-dressing. As such, the man's legs behind the portrait of a courtesan on the back wall might connect to masquerade culture. Although the soon-to-be widow shows real remorse for her actions, as disclosed by the single tear drop that falls, her husband's fate is captured in the candle flame that is about to be extinguished by the sudden draft that must have entered the room when the lawyer (who has become her lover) prepared to leap from the window.

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