The 18th century, the Golden Age of British Art. The 18th century, the great age of British painting. It was in this period that British art attained a distinct national character. Hogarth was followed by a row of illustrious painters: Thomas Gainsborough, with his lyrical landscapes, fancy pictures and portraits, Reynolds, who painted charming society portraits and became the first president of the Royal Academy. William Hogarth was unquestionably one of the greatest of English artists and a man of remarkably individual character and thought. It was his achievement to give a comprehensive view of social life within the framework of moralistic and dramatic narrative.
His masterpiece of the famous series was Marriage a la Mode. This set of pictures describes a marriage between the daughter of a rich man and a young lord, the son of an old earl. The Girls father has brought a bag full of money with him. Their children are together but apart: the young man is watching himself in the glass; the girl is listening to a young Counsellor. The pictures round the room help understand the situation. In one of the pictures Madam sits listening to the young Consellor, whose portrait hangs in her room. Other pictures in the series show My Lord who amuses himself with a bad company. He returns home tipsy. Madam wastes her money at auctions. The end is known. My Lord attacks the Counsellor, who kills him and is executed. Moral: do not listen to counsellors; don’t marry a man for his rank, or a woman for her money; don’t visit auctions unknown to your husband; don’t have bad friends. Otherwise you will be ruined.