The Toilette William Hogarth Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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William Hogarth's "Toilette" is a masterpiece that not only depicts his prowess and satirical style of painting but also cleverly tells the story of monarchs' lives comically. Drawing inspiration from actual life, the piece of art demonstrates what the ritual was known as the lever du roi.

The Viscount and his wife are in their house preparing for the coming day. In the painting, the pink-curtained alcove has a coronet, signifying that the Viscount has inherited the title of his father, becoming an Earl and his wife becoming the Countess. The Countess is being entertained as her hair is fixed in readiness for the day. A teething coral hangs by her right arm, showing that she is now the mother of an infant who is nowhere in the scene, probably being raised by a nurse. There are also other portraits in the room, such as the Earl’s portrait on the wall.

In the painting, Hogarth uses the satire technique to convey his message and comically tell his stories. In some way, he seems to be criticizing how the new mother has given up parenting (of the teething infant) in favour of her crown. Thematically, Hogarth seems to focus on the life of monarchs. The painting is a satirical illustration of the monarch system and a portrayal of the trials and tribulations that come with it. Hogarth skilfully uses facial expressions and directions of gaze to depict the mood in the room and give clues to the interactions in the scene. The Countess looks disinterested in the people in the room, while Lawyer Silvertongue seems to be resting easy, leaning towards her with his feet laid on the sofa, depicting intimate moments between the two. The woman in white appears to be swooning at the singer and the flute accompaniment.

Through the painting, William Hogarth shows the trials and tribulations of marriage, especially in monarchy settings. The Countess is getting cosy with another man who is not her husband. She also does not seem to be bothered by her maternal instincts, as her teething infant is nowhere around her. She looks more fascinated and interested in the luxury that comes with the new title that she has just earned. This art was one of its own it has outstanding painting techniques. In terms of style, William Hogarth does not seem to favour drawing models in formal settings but prefers to draw inspiration from actual life experiences and happenings that he may have seen or heard. Sir James Thornhill's baroque paintings also inspired him.