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14.01.19

Chairs fall, worlds that tremble

If a chair reclines on the floor: something is not right. This is confirmed by the scene represented by Hogarth. It happens in a luxurious and motley residence. It has been some time since the wedding and the desire - if there was any - has vanished. With it the composure. The lady stretches herself ordinarily. The gentleman is squashed in the chair, obviously convalescing from a night of excess. The butler flees from the scene with a face of horror. Carrying some papers in the hand. Probably unpaid bills. Another servant, in the background, puts his hand to his head.  

 

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However, all this picture of lack of decorum, moral ruin and announced economic bankruptcy comes to be summarized in a fallen chair. It is an upholstered chair with a cabriolet leg, English Queen Anne style, very modest ... But what is significant is that it is lying down. We are before the second engraving of the series of six titled Marriage A-la-Mode by William Hogarth in 1745* and it is not the only collapsed chair. In the fifth engraving a rustic stool appears knocked down in a skirmish. It happens in an alcove of furtive encounters. In the sixth and conclusive scene of the drama another chair lying down occupies the first plane. The thing has gone down and we observe in a humbler apartment and on the ground a Renaissance model, of little lineage and old fashioned.

The story that is narrated in the series is that of a marriage of convenience between a viscount and a maiden, daughter of a wealthy bourgeois and that of their inexorable fall: in adultery and dissipated life, in venereal diseases and bankruptcy, in murder, hanging and suicide. A moralistic story, while an illustration of the decadence of the social structure; of those precepts and guidelines of lineage that supported the Old Regime. All of which can be summarized also in a collapsed chair.

* The engravings of the series are based on the paintings that, with the same narrative, Hogarth had painted in 1742.

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