25 May 2017

Past and Present, No. 1 1858 by Augustus Leopold Egg 1816-1863

Augustus Egg’s Past and Present No. 1 (1858) is at Tate Britain (and was on the Post last August, along with Parts 2 and 3). It’s very well written up on the Tate website: ‘The husband is holding a letter, evidence of his wife’s adultery, and simultaneously crushes a miniature of her lover under his foot…In Victorian England a man could safely take a mistress without fear of recrimination, but for a woman to be unfaithful was an unforgivable crime.’ It’s the fault of fiction: ‘the house of cards  [is] supported by a novel by Balzac – a specialist in the theme of adultery.’