A Fashionable Marriage / Marriage à la Mode / The Countess's Morning Levée

Drawing
1986 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In 1986 British artist Lubaina Himid was drawn to an image in a popular print series by William Hogarth. Marriage a la Mode of 1743 sought to expose the greed, fashionable excesses and exploitation which Hogarth saw at the heart of affluent 18th-century London life. Through six scenes, it describes the fall-out from an arranged marriage between the son of an impoverished Earl and the daughter of an avaricious tobacco merchant. Himid focused on scene four in which the countess is pictured at her toilette receiving the attention of her lover, the lawyer Silvertongue, surrounded by friends and admirers.

Himid’s response took the form of an installation entitled A Fashionable Marriage. Using larger-than-life plywood figures, she reused the characters and composition of the Hogarth original to deliver a scathing critique on contemporary art and politics. The countess and her lover became British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan, ‘an unwholesome liaison of capitalism and imperialism’ (Bernadette Fort, 2001). In this preparatory drawing Thatcher’s dress is sprinkled with bananas, a reference to her many ‘slips’ which are described beside each bunch: ‘Belgrano’, ‘miners’ strike’, ‘inner city neglect’, ‘unemployment’.

This and the related drawings (E.599-602-1996) were produced by the artist as 'aides memoires' for the 3D installation.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleThe Countess / 1743 / The Grocer's Daughter / Mrs M Thatcher / 1986 (assigned by artist)
Materials and Techniques
Wash drawing with collage
Brief Description
'A Fashionable Marriage', wash drawing with collage, Lubaina Himid, Great Britain, 1986
Physical Description
A pencil and wash caricatured drawing of the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher seated looking into a mirror which reflects (using a newspaper cutting) her face. The seated figure wears an orange and yellow gown with a white stole. Under her bodice is written 'supporter of apartheid' and her skirt is patterned with banana skins with text next to each reading 'Belgrano', 'sanction buster', 'selling council housing', 'miners' strike', 'Libya / Reagan', 'inner city neglect', 'no free school milk', 'unemployment'. On the hem is written 'My party is very anxious to maintain good relations with immigrants'. Further newspaper cuttings have been pasted onto the image.
Dimensions
  • Height: 74.5cm
  • Width: 54cm
Subjects depicted
Summary
In 1986 British artist Lubaina Himid was drawn to an image in a popular print series by William Hogarth. Marriage a la Mode of 1743 sought to expose the greed, fashionable excesses and exploitation which Hogarth saw at the heart of affluent 18th-century London life. Through six scenes, it describes the fall-out from an arranged marriage between the son of an impoverished Earl and the daughter of an avaricious tobacco merchant. Himid focused on scene four in which the countess is pictured at her toilette receiving the attention of her lover, the lawyer Silvertongue, surrounded by friends and admirers.



Himid’s response took the form of an installation entitled A Fashionable Marriage. Using larger-than-life plywood figures, she reused the characters and composition of the Hogarth original to deliver a scathing critique on contemporary art and politics. The countess and her lover became British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan, ‘an unwholesome liaison of capitalism and imperialism’ (Bernadette Fort, 2001). In this preparatory drawing Thatcher’s dress is sprinkled with bananas, a reference to her many ‘slips’ which are described beside each bunch: ‘Belgrano’, ‘miners’ strike’, ‘inner city neglect’, ‘unemployment’.



This and the related drawings (E.599-602-1996) were produced by the artist as 'aides memoires' for the 3D installation.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • See essays by Lubaina Himid ('A Fashionable Marriage') and Bernadette Fort ('Lubaina Himid's A Fashionable Marriage: A Post-Colonial Hogarthian ''Dumb Show''') in The Other Hogarth: Aesthetics of Difference, Bernadette Fort & Angela Rosenthal (eds.), Princeton University Press, 2001
  • Taken from R.P. 96/425
  • Rosemary Miles 'Hogarth after Hogarth; a legacy of inspiration', leaflet accompanying the display, VAM 1997
  • Exhibited: A Fashionable Marriage, Pentonville Galleries, London, 1986, Rochdale Art Gallery, 1987, 'The Hogarth after Hogarth, VAM, 15.10.97- 22.3.98
Collection
Accession Number
E.599-1996

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record createdDecember 6, 2007
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