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Certain Vicious Men

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Closed 24th December to 27th December 2021 and 31st December 2021 to 1st January 2022 inclusive closed Gallery closures and collection updates

 Before, by William Hogarth
Before, by William Hogarth

Hogarth painted two versions of Before and After. In the other pair, now in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the action takes place in the lady's bedchamber. There are prints based on these works in the Fitzwilliam [22.K.3-26+27].

What we know of the patrons of the paintings does not suggest that either set was commissioned for any high moral purpose. A 1785 biography of Hogarth records that the indoor version, in which the young man is more aggressive in his approach and the girl more apparently unwilling, was ordered by 'a certain vicious nobleman', thought to be John, second duke of Montague.

The commissioner of the Fitzwilliam pair, John Thompson, Member of Parliament for Great Marlow, was scarcely better. He never in fact collected his paintings from Hogarth, for in 1731 he fled to Paris, having embezzled the funds of the Charitable Corporation for the Relief of the Industrious Poor. It has been suggested that the young man's face in Before and After is a portrait of the dishonourable member for Marlow.

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