James Gillray

Primary tabs

James Gillray
(1756–1815)

Matrimonial-Harmonics

[London]: Published by H. Humphrey, 27 St James Street, 25 October 1805

Etching, hand colored
Image 254 x 358 mm, plate mark 257 x 361 mm

Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987

1986.336
Item description: 

An unhappily married couple torment each other in the breakfast-room. The lady has left her seat to thump on the piano and sing loudly while her husband sits on the sofa with his hand over his ear, food stuffed into his mouth, reading the 'Sporting Calendar'. The pages of her open music-book are headed 'Forte'. Her song is: 'Torture Fiery Rage / Despair I cannot can not bear'. On the piano lies music: 'Separation a Finale for Two Voices with Accompaniment'; on the floor is ’The Wedding Ring - a Dirge’. A nurse hastens into the room holding a squalling infant, and flourishing a rattle. On the lady’s chair is an open book, ’The Art of Tormenting’, illustrated by a cat playing with a mouse. Under the man’s feet lies a dog barking fiercely at an angry cat, poised on the back of the sofa, and within a hanging birdcage two cockatoos screech angrily at each other, neglecting a nest of three young ones. Beside them on the wall is a bust of ’Hymen’ with a broken nose, and a thermometer that has sunk almost to ’Freezing’. On the chimney-piece is a carved ornament: Cupid asleep under a weeping willow, his torch reversed, the arrows falling from his quiver.