It hasn’t always been a bed of roses for Sugar Babies, as The Unequal Marriage, a famous work of art painted in 1862 by Russian artist Vasily Vladimirovich Pukirev, illustrates. It is thought to be one of the first visual images of a Sugar Daddy/Sugar Baby relationship and does not paint a happy picture.
It is far from a joyful view on Sugar Daddy/Sugar Baby relationships in Russia during that period, as the painting depicts the wedding ceremony of an elderly, high-ranking official and a young, visibly unhappy girl. The painting was a work of social criticism against the unequal position of women and the corruption of bureaucracy in Russia during the latter part of the 19th century.
It attacks the imbalance of female status in Russian society at the time, against the prevailing lust in society for money and power at the expense of the individual’s happiness.
The image of the unhappy Sugar Baby, seemingly marrying a Sugar Daddy against her will, was intended to arouse the dormant social conscience and reform society.
The Unequal Marriage is currently on display at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia.