William Hogarth

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


Not on display

William Hogarth 1697–1764
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 652 × 667 mm
frame: 865 × 895 × 78 mm
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Tate 2003

Display caption

This is an example of an informal group portrait known as a ‘conversation piece’. The lady dressed in black is thought to be Catherine Darnley, Countess of Buckingham. She was considered an ‘illegitimate child’ as her parents, King James II and Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, never married. Catherine had a reputation for being condescending in her high social position. She developed various rules on how to behave in her company, including not opening a fan. Hogarth satirises this, painting a dog with an open fan disrupting the calm of the scene.

Gallery label, October 2021

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