Le Mariage de Convenance 1883 William Quiller Orchardson

Sir William Quiller Orchardson was born in Edinburgh in 1835. He moved to London in 1862 and among his fellow students was Thomas Faed, who painted The Last of the Clan (see previous blog). Together with other younger artists he formed an artistic school and social circle of Scottish artists in London. He painted portraits, everyday scenes and historical paintings and his painting Her Mother’s Voice is thought to have been the inspiration for the HMV advertising icon of the little dog listening to the gramophone known as His Master’s Voice. This painting was produced in the 1880s during the height of his powers. He was knighted in 1907 and has a self-portrait in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He died in London in 1901.

The painting portrays a discontented young wife dining with her much older husband and the colours are subtle and muted. The lamp over the table highlights the story and is the divide between the wife, and the husband and the butler – the husband seems to have more in common with the butler. The huge table emphasises the age gap and it appears that the marriage, as well as the meal, is over. The French title of the piece was to detract from the risqué subject matter as the owner would not have wanted it to appear as a statement on their own marriage. This is further underlined by the light source, which comes from the front, rather than the lamp above, as if to suggest that this is a scene from a play. It has a companion piece in Aberdeen Art Gallery called Marriage of Convenience – After which depicts the husband now alone with his butler.

You can find this painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum on the first floor in the Every Picture Tells a Story Gallery.

For daytime and private evening viewings of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum contact Intermezzo on 0141 636 6929 or email us at info@intermezzo-arts.co.uk