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Etching - A Taste in High Life
  • A Taste in High Life
    Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10
  • Enlarge image

A Taste in High Life

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (etched)

  • Date:

    1746 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    The Forster Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53a, case 5

Object Type
This print by William Hogarth is an etching. The action of acid was used to make a pattern of grooves on a copper printing plate. This image on the printing plate was the reverse of the final image. The grooves were then filled with ink and the image was transferred onto a blank sheet of paper.

Subject Depicted
William Hogarth (1697-1754) is satirising the clothes and behaviour of fashionable society in the early 1740s. On the left is a woman with her servant, a young boy she has dressed up in a feathered turban. The woman on the right is wearing a dress with a ludicrously full skirt. Her companion wears a long pigtail and is carrying a huge white fur muff. This couple are in a raptures over a teacup held by the woman, and its matching saucer, held by the man. A passion for collecting porcelain was widely seen as a foible of the wealthy. Even the pictures on the wall make fun of fashionable body shapes and the means to achieve them: vast skirts supported on hoops, corsets and high-heeled shoes. In the foreground is a dressed-up monkey reading from a dinner menu offering 'cox combs, ducks tongues, rabbits ears and fricasey of snails'.

Design and Designing
Mary Edwards (1704-1743) commissioned William Hogarth to paint the picture this print is based on. She wanted to get her own back on people who had ridiculed her for wearing old-fashioned clothes.

Hogarth originally refused permission to have his painting made into a print, but in 1746 an unknown etcher ignored his wishes. A newspaper advert of 24 May announced 'On Monday next will be published an entertaining new Print called Taste in High Life from an incomparable Picture by Mr Hogarth proving beyond contradiction, that the present assemblies are mere exotics, and the supporters of such a parcel of Insects'. This print cost sixpence in 1746.

Physical description


Place of Origin

London (etched)


1746 (made)


Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (designer)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 20.5 cm sheet, Width: 26.3 cm sheet

Object history note

Designed by William Hogarth (born in London, 1697, died there in 1764) and etched in London

Descriptive line

A Taste in High Life

Labels and date

British Galleries:
William Hogarth here ridicules the extremes of French fashion for 1742. He shows the central couple as extravagantly and inconveniently dressed, with highly affected manners. The man, Lord Portmore, is wearing his Parisian finery, while the monkey reads a menu listing French dishes. British artists repeatedly satirised the French for their supposed artifice and extravagant fashions. [27/03/2003]


Printing ink




Caricatures & Cartoons; Prints; British Galleries


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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