This cartoon, from Mr Punch’s Pocket Book of 1876, sardonically sees marriage in the most commercial terms possible: as a high-pressure auction. The title playfully refers to The Babylonian Marriage Market, painted the previous year by Edwin Long (1829–1891) and inspired by a passage in the Histories by Herodotus (c. 484–425 BCE). Mr Punch himself is the auctioneer, with Cupid in front. A mother attends her daughter who is next under the hammer; under the platform are the women lots, those already sold on the left. The attitudes and comments of the characters offer a glimpse into popular speech and sentiments of the time.
- Article by:
- Greg Buzwell
- Gender and sexuality, Fin de siècle
Free-spirited and independent, educated and uninterested in marriage and children, the figure of the New Woman threatened conventional ideas about ideal Victorian womanhood. Greg Buzwell explores the place of the New Woman – by turns comical, dangerous and inspirational – in journalism and in fiction by writers such as Thomas Hardy, George Gissing and Sarah Grand.