The 'Marriage à la Mode' series was Hogarth's first to satirize the upper classes. In particular he was attacking arranged marriages for economic convenience. The series tells of the disastrous marriage of the Earl of Squanderfield's son, Viscount Squanderfield, to the daughter of a wealthy Alderman of the City of London.
In the fourth scene in the series the coronet above the Viscountess's dressing table shows that the Earl has died and she has become a Countess. She is also a mother, shown by the child's teething coral which hangs from her chair. Here Councillor Silvertongue is inviting the Countess to a masquerade like the one depicted on the screen behind him whilst an opera singer, probably Francesco Bernardi, and the German flautist Weidemann entertain her other guests. The scene also includes two slave-servants whose presence adds to the Countess's status. The young African page at the left of the scene is seated amongst fashionable and exotic objects that have been similarly uprooted for the whim and amusement of their owners.