William Hogarth Three Ladies in a Grand Interior (‘The Broken Fan’), possibly Catherine Darnley, Duchess of Buckingham with Two Ladies c.1736

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Artwork details

Artist
William Hogarth 1697–1764
Title
Three Ladies in a Grand Interior (‘The Broken Fan’), possibly Catherine Darnley, Duchess of Buckingham with Two Ladies
Date c.1736
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?

March 2011

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