Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F

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

Drawing
1986 (made)
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. A ‘fashionable [black] boy servant’ pictured in the foreground in orientalised dress in Hogarth’s image becomes, for Himid, ‘The Radical Activist’. The auction house booty he was previously playing with has been replaced with a globe and a pile of ‘war toys’. World security, Himid seems to suggest, is held within his palms.

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 Radical Activist 1986 / Fashionable Boy Servant 1743 (assigned by artist)
Materials and Techniques
Wash drawing
Brief Description
'A Fashionable Marriage', wash drawing, Lubaina Himid, Great Britain, 1986
Physical Description
A pencil and wash drawing of a young dark-skinned man in orientalist dress (feathered turban, etc.) who kneels next to a globe and pile of 'war toys' (toy soliders, baton, helmet, guns etc.). In his right hand he holds a missile. With his left he points to its tip, which has been broken off.
Dimensions
  • Height: 75cm
  • Width: 55cm
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. A ‘fashionable [black] boy servant’ pictured in the foreground in orientalised dress in Hogarth’s image becomes, for Himid, ‘The Radical Activist’. The auction house booty he was previously playing with has been replaced with a globe and a pile of ‘war toys’. World security, Himid seems to suggest, is held within his palms.



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
Collection
Accession Number
E.601-1996

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record createdDecember 6, 2007
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