Augustus Leopold EggPast and Present, No. 1 1858

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Artwork details

Augustus Leopold Egg (1816‑1863)
Past and Present, No. 1
Date 1858
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 635 x 762 mm frame: 801 x 925 x 85 mm
Acquisition Presented by Sir Alec and Lady Martin in memory of their daughter Nora 1918
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1840


This is the first of a set of three modern-life pictures on the theme of the fallen woman. The other two (N032279 and N03280) are also in the Tate collection. They are typical of the social moralist pictures that were popular in Victorian art.

The theme of the triptych is the discovery of the woman's infidelity and its consequences. In this first scene the wife lies prostrate at her husband's feet, while he sits grimly at the table and their children (the older girl modelled by William Frith's daughter) play cards in the background. The husband is holding a letter, evidence of his wife's adultery, and simultaneously crushes a miniature of her lover under his foot. The setting is an ordinary middle-class drawing room, but closer observation reveals that the room is full of symbols… (read more)

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