William Hogarth

Three Ladies in a Grand Interior (‘The Broken Fan’), possibly Catherine Darnley, Duchess of Buckingham with Two Ladies

c.1736

Artist
William Hogarth 1697–1764
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 652 x 667 mm
frame: 865 x 895 x 78 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Tate 2003
Reference
T11756

Not on display

Display caption

This is an example of the new portrait format – the ‘conversation piece’ – which Hogarth pioneered in the 1730s.
The modesty, small scale and informality of conversation pieces are often seen as reflecting the values of a growing, Anglican middle-class. However, the main sitter, on the left, is probably the aristocratic Duchess of Buckingham, an illegitimate child of the Catholic king James II and a staunch supporter of the exiled Stuart court. Here, she is distracted by a little dog running away with her fan. Is the effect sympathetic or satirical?

Gallery label, March 2011