Deciphering the downfall of Shakespeare, represented on a modern stage of 1765.
If any thing be overlooked, or not accurately inserted, let no one find fault, but take into consideration that this history is compiled from all quarters.
(Evagrius, p473, as quoted by John Genest on the title page of his Some Account of the English Stage from the Restoration in 1660 to 1830, Bath, 1832)
The Theatre Museum has recently acquired this mysterious work by William Dawes. It measures 69.8 cm. by 90.8 cm. It was put up for auction by Maria Dubno Nicoll, retired librarian of the University of Birmingham Shakespeare Institute and widow of Allardyce Nicoll (1894-1976), at the Malvern Sale Room of Philip Serrell Auctioneer on 11 May 2006. This painting, with estimates of 15,000 [pounds sterling] to 20,000 [pounds sterling], failed to sell under the hammer and was subsequently sold by private treaty to the Theatre Museum (a department of the Victoria and Albert Museum). The acquisition was handled by Dr. Jim Fowler, Director of Research and Collections at the Theatre Museum. 5,000 [pounds sterling] came from the bequest to the Theatre Museum of Society for Theatre Research stalwart, Jack Reading, and 1,000 [pounds sterling] was donated by the Society for Theatre Research specifically to assist the purchase.
The downfal of Shakespear, represented on a modern stage (sic) (Plate 4) was first exhibited at the Free Society of Artists exhibition held in March/April 1765: catalogue number 76. In modern times it has been exhibited at The Royal Opera House Retrospective 1732-1982 in 1982/3 (1) and again at 'An Extravagant and Irrational Entertainment" Staging the opera in England 1632-1792 (sic) in 1987. (2)
Both catalogues contain short entries which scraped the surface of the mystery of this painting. In the catalogue for the 1987 exhibition and in an article for Early Music, February 1990, I went further in exploring attitudes of English audiences of the time to foreign opera and quoted Sylas Neville's diary of 24 February 1767 after visiting La Buona Figliola at the Opera House in the Haymarket: 'I can't say I was greatly entertained tho' the Music is very pleasing. There is something very absurd and truly characteristic of the present Age in supporting a set of people at an immense expense to perform in a language which very few understand.' (3) This, it now turns out, was misleading as the scene depicted alludes to an opera sung in English. But at the time I was unable to identify the subject of the painting and why Dawes had painted it when he did.
Neither had the Nicolls who lived with the picture for ten years. They had acquired the painting in Oxford in 1965, the Bonfiglioli Gallery having advertised it for sale, with a half a page black and white reproduction in The Burlington Magazine of September 1965, together with information only about the Free Society of Artists exhibition of 1765. I knew Kyril Bonfiglioli, having been a lodger in his large north Oxford house in 1961 or 1962, while I was Resident Stage Manager at the Oxford Playhouse but he died in 1985.
My first sight of a reproduction of the painting was in 1980 when the Manchester University Press published The Garrick Stage--Theatre and Audiences in the Eighteenth Century by Allardyce Nicoll. (4) The editor of this posthumous work was Sybil Rosenfeld, a distinguished eighteenth-century scholar. She too was unable to identify the painting but did use it as the book's frontispiece in black and white, without information of the size of the picture. She incorrectly attributed the painting to Philip Dawes who was an engraver who never exhibited at the Free Society of Artists. In a short note she stated that the 'dark skinned spectator' in the stage left box recalled the visit of the Moroccan Ambassador to Drury Lane on 4 May 1756, nine years before the picture was painted. She had found no notes by Allardyce or Maria Nicoll. Thus we do not know what they thought and we have no information on the provenance of the painting and its history over 200 years, 1765 to 1965.
Little is known of William Dawes (fl 1760-1774). Ellis Waterhouse has nothing in either Painting in Britain, 1530 to 1790 (Harmondsworth, 1953, and later editions) or Dictionary of sixteenth and seventeenth Century British and Irish Painters (Woodbridge, 1988). The Witt Library at the Courtauld Institute contains only the information of the 1965 sale. Tate Britain once attributed two paintings to him but these are now attributed to the earlier William Jones. An internet search on 'artnet' with the criteria 'Artist: William Dawes (British)', revealed that a similar size canvas, 70.5 x 90.8 cm. entitled The Henpecked Husband, was sold at Butterfields, New York on 26 May 1999 for $5,175. (5) William Dawes offered this latter painting for sale at the Free Society of Artists in both 1767 and 1768. No other paintings by William Dawes appear to be extant unless a provincial gallery or country house is sheltering one.
Elizabeth Einberg is the only authority who has caught sight of William Dawes. In her catalogue of the works of George Lambert (1700-1765), she suggested that Dawes was 'an amateur artist of independent means and a close friend of John Collett'. (6) The latter (c. 1725-1780), was described by John Nichols and George Steevens in The Genuine Works of Hogarth illustrated with Biographical Anecdotes, published in 1808, as 'a man of learning, of considerable fortune, and of the most amiable manners and benevolent turn of mind'. (7) This note on Collett continues with a link to Dawes:
He was, like his friend Dawes who was also independent, languid in the pursuit of his art; and though he painted many pictures, viz. Courtship, the Elopement, Honeymoon, Matrimony, Picquet or Virtue in Danger, &c. for which there are prints by Geldar, he is perhaps better known by the Taylor riding to Brentford than any other of his works. There are also prints from several Pictures by Dawes, particularly the Cave Scene in Macbeth, engraved by Bannermann, and captain Bobadil cudgelled. But I think the piece which may be esteemed his chef d'oeuvre is the Drunkard reproving his disorderly Family. He died about twenty-four years since, in Green Street Leicester Fields.
This puts the death of William Dawes at between 1782 and 1784.
Both Collett and Dawes added figures to the landscapes of Lambert who was a principal scenic artist to John Rich (1692-1761) and was entrusted to paint the new scenes for the Theatre Royal Covent Garden which Rich opened in succession to the Theatre Royal Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1732.
Einberg tells us that in a catalogue for the Lambert sale in 1765 after his death Lot 46, 'Mr. Lambert, Two Landscapes', is annotated 'Figure 'by Dawes' by a hand which makes several other well-informed comments. Lot 45 sold for an above average price of 4.7s [pounds sterling].
This meagre information draws Dawes closer to the world of theatre. But there is another story which brings Dawes closer to William Hogarth (16971764), whose style and habit of packing a picture with allusions Dawes so clearly emulated. Nichols and Steevens recount an anecdote attributed to George Michael Moser R.A., a seal engraver who exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1760 to 1767:
Mr. Moser was informed by Dawes, a pupil of the late Mr. Hogarth, that while this original Genius had his Analysis of Beauty in contemplation he has, more than once, accompanied him to the Fleet Market, and Harp Alley adjacent, which were in those times the great marts, and indeed exhibitions, of signs, of various descriptions, barbers'-blocks, poles, etc. etc. which were then more in request than they have been of late years. In these places it was the delight of Hogarth to contemplate these specimens of genius emanating from a school which he used emphatically to observe was truly English, and frequently compare with, and prefer to the more expensive productions of these Geniuses whom he was to term the Black Masters.
Nichols and Steevens explain the work of the latter as 'bad copies of frequently bad originals of the Italian and Elemish schools'. This fashionable taste for the foreign was considered a 'deviation from common sense' which did not 'pass unnoticed by Garrick who, in his Prologue to Taste, in the character of Peter Puff (the auctioneer) animadverts upon it with much truth and some humour' (416-7).
This anecdote and its circumstances suggest the possible attitudes of Dawes to the fashionable tastes of the day. But it is not hard fact. For that we have to consult the catalogues for the Free Society and the Society of Artists of Great Britain. (8)
There is some confusion over these two groups. Both claimed 1760 as their first exhibition: 21 April 1760, the first public exhibition of British Art, staged in the Great Room of the Society of Arts in the Strand at the instigation of the first chairman of the Artists' Committee, Francis Hayman (1708-1776). Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) was involved from the outset and the activities of both groups led to the founding of the Royal Academy and its first exhibition in 1769. The two evolved somewhat differently although many artists exhibited at both. Confusingly in 1771 both groups called themselves the Society of Artists in their announcements and catalogues: the grander of the two charging one shilling for the catalogue at the Great Room in Spring Gardens, Chafing Cross and the lesser, charging six pence, also for the relief of their distressed brethren, their widows and children, at Mr. Moreing's Great Room in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden.
Dawes exhibited at both: in 1760, 1761 and 1762 at the Society of Artists of Great Britain and between 1764 and 1774 at the Free Society. A total of twenty-four of his paintings are recorded in the catalogues. These included the following Jonsonian and Shakespearian subjects, not of performance but based only on the text (when Zoffany, or 'Zaffanij' as he appears in these catalogues, paints a theatre scene the actor is named): 1760 A scene in Macbeth, Act IV, scene 1; 1761 Captain Bobadil cudgel'd, Every Man in his Humour Act 4 Sc 7; 1762 Olivia and Malvolio, in Twelfth Night Act 3 Sc 4 and Catherine and Petruchio, in The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Sc 3; 1765 The downfall of Shakespeare, represented on a modern stage; 1770 Sc III Act 1 in Macbeth; 1772 Macbeth Act 4 Sc 2; 1774 A scene in Macbeth. All were offered for sale.
The arrangements for sale of those items marked * in the Free Society of Artists catalogues (the other group was more discreet) were complex. The catalogue carried a notice indicating whom the purchaser should approach and where. An interesting thing is that the collective noun in the catalogues used for all 'Paintings, Sculptures, Architecture, Models, Drawings, Engraving & etc.' is 'Performances'.
William Dawes's address is generally given as at Mr. Brisbayne's, Green Street, Leicester Fields. And that, plus the anecdote attributed to Moses, is all we know, for the moment, of William Dawes. We know neither his date of birth nor date of death. In the catalogues William Dawes was not listed as Mr. Dawes (as was Mr. Dawe the seal engraver) which suggests that he was a gentleman rather than a professional artist.
Although The downfall of Shakespeare, represented on a modern stage is probably the only satirical oil painting of the 18th century dealing with theatre there are other works, both watercolours and engravings, the circumstances of which aid the identification of the Dawes painting. We must put to one side as propaganda rather than satire the later intervention by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) in the dispute between Richard O'Reilly's Pantheon and William Taylor's King's Theatre of 1791. Rowlandson provided his paymaster O'Reilly with a magnificent pair of watercolours, subsequently engraved, both entitled The Prospect Before Us, and a third Chaos is Come Again. These used theatre architecture to puff the Pantheon, the owners of which had purchased the opera patent, before it opened, only to have the Pantheon destroyed by fire within a year. (9) However, before 1765 there were two engravings, of 1724 (Plate 1) and 1735 (Plate 2), neither based on a painting, which are relevant and not only because they comment on the architecture. Both are flat-on views of the stage showing the proscenium arch. The 1724 engraving does not show the audience while the 1735 engraving sketches in only four members of the audience sitting over the proscenium arch doors. In contrast the Dawes painting of 1765 is rich in detail of both audience in the stage boxes and the orchestra in front of the stage.
A Just View of the British Stage, or Three Heads are better than one, Scene Newgate by: MD--V--has been attributed to William Hogarth (Plate 1). Some art historians now doubt this, both on the grounds of the drawing not being up to the standards of other works by Hogarth at this time and on the grounds that the words in balloons from the three principal characters upstage centre is a device rarely used by Hogarth. In the catalogue for the exhibition "Among the Whores and Thieves" William Hogarth and The Beggar's Opera (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut) this engraving is attributed to Gerard Vandergucht (1696-1776). (10)
The three characters centre stage are, from the left, Barton Booth, Colley Cibber and Robert Wilks, who shared the patent at 'the old house', Drury Lane, in competition with John Rich at 'the other house', Lincoln's Inn Fields, which preceded the first Covent Garden. The latter opened eight years later in 1732, financed, it was said, largely out of the profits of The Beggar's Opera which had been first performed in 1728 at Lincoln's Inn Fields.
The figures are shown against a background based on the set, designed by John Devoto (fl. 1708-1752), for Harlequin Sheppard which opened at Drury Lane on 28 November 1724, 12 days after Sheppard's execution at Tyburn and played for only seven performances, all before the end of the year. But the figures of tragedy and comedy, on three-dimensional plinths each side of the scene, are at first confusing. There is no other visual record of such figures at any of the successive Drury Lanes although they are familiar in the engravings of Covent Garden, such as the triumph of Harlequin and Punch (1735) (Plate 2) and the riots at Artaxerxes in its second season (1763) (Plate 5). But the 1724 engraving carries specific allusions to two pantomimes brought out by Drury Lane in an attempt to cap Rich at Lincoln's Inn Fields. The 'notice' stage right, Harlequin Dr. Faustus, which opened on 26 November 1723, reminds the viewer that Rich's subsequent and rival version, The Necromancer or, Harlequin Dr. Faustus, premiered only 24 days later, was more successful. (11) The other 'notice' which defaces, literally, the Muse of Comedy stage left, refers to the Harlequin Shepherd.
Whether prompted by John Rich or not, the artist is accusing the management of Drury Lane of insulting Shakespeare and the drama in their desperate attempt to emulate Rich's new found pre-eminence as Harlequin. The three-hole privy carries the legend 'Jack Hall [also referred to in the subscription] going down the privy in Newgate'. Jack Hall, chimney sweep, had preceded Jack Sheppard to Tyburn in 1707. Hall escaped downward while Sheppard's escapes were spectacularly upwards. The reference is not, as has been supposed, to the corpulent actor Jack Hall, the original Lockit in The Beggar's Opera, who was loyal to Rich and never appeared at Drury Lane. The lavatory paper pegged to the privy stage left consists of sheets labelled Way of ye World, Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. (12)
Thus this engraving presents the duel for the pantomime/afterpiece trade, between the triumvirate of Drury Lane on the one hand and John Rich at, successively, Lincoln's Inn Fields and Covent Garden on the other--from the point of view of the latter. In 1714 Rich had succeeded his father, and continued to play Harlequin until 1752 when he retired from the stage, though he continued to manage Covent Garden until his death in 1761. In 1740 Colley Cibber complained in his Apology how at Drury Lane he was forced to keep searching for new Harlequins as 'monstrous medlies arose upon one another, alternately at both houses, outvying in expense, like contending bribes on both sides of an election, to secure a majority of the multitude'. (13)
In 1750, only ten years later, in his prologue for his third season David Garrick was forced to adopt a somewhat different tone from the portentous prologue penned by Dr. Johnson for his first season in 1747:
'Tis yours this night to bid the reign commence Of rescued nature and reviving sense, etc. (14)
At the opening of the 1750 season Garrick spoke these lines from the stage of Drury Lane:
Sacred to Shakespeare was this spot design'd. To pierce the heart and humanize the mind. But, if an empty house, the actor's curse, Shews us our Lears and Hamlets lose their force, Unwilling, we must change the nobler scene And, in our turn, present you Harlequin; Quit Poets and set Carpenters to work Shew gaudy scenes, or mount the vaulting Turk For though we Actors, one and all, agree Boldly to struggle for our--vanity, If want comes on, Importance must retreat: Our first great ruling passion is--to eat. (15)
The identification of Drury Lane in the 1724 engraving is confirmed by the motto over the proscenium arch. Joe Haines refers to it in the epilogue to George Farquhar's Love in a Bottle (1698):
'Vivitur Ingenio'; that damn'd Motto there Seduced me first to be a Wicked Player. Hard Times indeed, Oh Tempora! Oh Mores! I knew that Stage must down where not one whore is. (16)
This is a shortened version of the full Latin tag, 'Vivitur ingenio; caetera morris erunt', translated in the period as 'Genius survives, all else is claimed by death'. (17)
In a place where genius is shared by actor and author this must refer to the latter as the ephemeral actor is claimed by death. Hence this could be the reason why VIVITUR INGENIO appears on the arch of Covent Garden in the 1735 engraving, also by Gerard Vandergucht (Plate 2). In contrast Rich's previous theatre, the third Lincoln's Inn Fields, and Covent Garden in the second half of the eighteenth century, had the different motto VELUTI IN SPECULUM: UTILE ET DULCE (18) (often translated as 'if in a mirror: usefulness with delight'), which can be clearly seen in the later paintings by William Hogarth of The Beggar's Opera (1728/30). (19) Subsequent instances of this motto or the first half of it include a design by Cipriani of 1777 (20), a watercolour by Van Assen of 1793 (21), an engraving by Gleadah of 1815 (22) and a watercolour by Schnebbelie of 1824. (23) Why then does what we think of as the Drury Lane motto appear on the 1735 engraving of a scene at Covent Garden which both before and after had a different motto? Could it be an ironic comment on the scene depicted?
On the other hand, that the 1735 engraving (Plate 2) is definitely of Covent Garden is confirmed by the detail of the proscenium arch, doors and boxes over. The match, apart from the artist's narrowing the arch to emphasise the figures, is with the long section of Edward Shepherd's auditorium in Dumont's Parallele de Plans des Plus Belles Salles de Spectacle d'ltalie et de France engraved in 1774--the first major alterations to this auditorium did not take place until 1782. (24)
Underneath the scene is the couplet:
Shakespear, Rowe, Johnson now are quite undone These are thy Tryumphs, thy Exploits O Lun!
The artist wished to emphasise that the wonderful Lun (the stage name of John Rich) had quite undone 'Shakespear, Rowe, Johnson' whose words are being trampled underfoot by Harlequin and Punch who are kicking the Apollonian figure where it hurts. Apollo bears the works of Horace while Harlequin has his new text of Harlequin Horace. Tragedy and Comedy look on, plus a few spectators in the Juliet boxes. (25)
This engraving (Plate 2) is an important precursor to The downfall of Shakespeare, as represented on a modern stage. It is signed on the plate (G. VanderGucht Invent & Sculp.) and thus is by an assured artist, Gerard Vandergucht (1696-1776), father to the painter Benjamin Vandergucht (1753-1794). Gerard Vandergucht is the artist to whom the 1724 engraving (Plate 1) has been recently attributed although the style seems very different. The scene in the 1735 engraving is associated with an important satire on the state of the British stage, Harlequin-Horace, having been used as the frontispiece to the third edition of that work. Harlequin-Horace, originally published in 1731, was a witty inversion of the Ars Poetica, written by satirist and playwright James Miller (1704-1744). Miller attacks both pantomime and opera in a theatrical world where pantomime panders to the popular taste and opera to the fashionable taste for the foreign and exotic. Miller was a precursor of Charles Churchill, author of The Rosciad (first of many editions 1761) which is relevant to The downfall of Shakespeare, as represented on a modern stage. The Vandergucht engraving was pirated, when the central figures, Horace and Punch, appear reversed centre stage in the frontispiece to The Hard Used Poet's Complaint by another satirist, Thomas Cooke, in 1737.
Despite the attacks of Miller and Vandergucht on Rich we should not believe that insulting Shakespeare was the preserve of Covent Garden. In 1755 Garrick rewrote A Midsummer Night's Dream as The Fairies. He lost the mechanicals, cut Act Five and added quite as many songs as are contained in any ballad opera. Garrick's prologue to his own rewrite contains this couplet:
I dare not say WHO wrote it--I could tell ye To soften matter--Signor Shakespearelli.
Lysander and Hermia were played by the two Italian singers Signor Guadagni, a castrato, and Signora Parsenini. It did not stop there. Both The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter's Tale were cut down into afterpieces as Catherine and Petruchio and Florizel and Perdita. Wrote Arthur Murphy of his Tempest: 'Garrick ought not to have suffered such a play to dwindle into an opera'. Wrote another commentator 'The Tempest has been castrated into an opera'. There were thirty-two songs with music by Handel's pupil, John Christopher Smith. Garrick took his Tempest off after only six performances. (26) The language of vituperation had been notched up: 'castrated into an opera'. That was in 1755 after which Garrick was much more careful: no more turning Shakespeare into ballad opera and no more castrati at Drury Lane. This did not stop satirists accusing Garrick of betraying Shakespeare as late as 1772 for preferring spectacle to verse. Francis Gentleman's hostile poem The Theatres used an engraving as a title page, (27) showing Garrick trampling on the works of S..... pear, B. John.... Rowe with this couplet below:
Behold the Muses ROSCIUS sue in Vain Taylors & Carpenters usurp their Reign.
In 1759 Rich stole Garrick's lead comedian, Henry Woodward, who obligingly had written and starred in the Drury Lane pantomimes for the preceding six years. In 1759 Garrick was forced to write his own pantomime Harlequin's Invasion. Nevertheless Rich's spectacular Harlequin pantomime, The Fair, won the day as had Covent Garden's seasonal offerings almost every year since 1724. In 1759 Rich also acquired from Drury Lane actor/singer John Beard, a signing which was to be even more significant than Woodward's and, as it turns out, loaded the commercial dice against Garrick for the next seven years.
Rich died on 26 November 1761. His will stipulated that Covent Garden be managed by his third wife, Priscilla Wilford, and Rich's son in law, the tenor John Beard, who had married Charlotte, daughter of Rich's second wife, Amy, until the theatre could be sold for an adequate sum. Beard was effectively in charge for six years until lease and patent could be sold for 60,000 [pounds sterling] (a huge sum in the eighteenth century) in May 1767 to George Colman, Thomas Harris, William Powell and John Rutherford.
It is thus John Beard, for six and a half years the actor-manager of Covent Garden opposite David Garrick then at his zenith at Drury Lane, who stands centre stage as Artabanes in Artaxeres in The downfall of Shakespeare, represented on a modern stage. To understand why Beard and the opera Artaxerxes should be the target of such a venomous and complex satire it is necessary to examine both the operatic and dramatic contexts as well to uncover more about Beard himself.
Handel dominated opera in England from his arrival in London in 1710 until the final performance of any of his operas in England for 150 years, which took place in 1754. The home of opera in England was the Queen's Theatre, later the King's Theatre on the death of Queen Anne in 1714. Handel's Rinaldo opened there on 24 February 1711. His last opera performance was given at the same theatre on 6 April 1754. The vicissitudes of opera politics in this period, which found Handel as musical director of the Royal Academy of Music for three seasons in opposition to The Opera of the Nobility, meant that Handel's operas were staged at three different theatres over the span of forty-four years: the King's, Lincoln's Inn Fields and Covent Garden. The latter two held, successively, one of the two patents for drama, not opera. There were only two opera seasons at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, which took place within the period November 1734 to May 1737. The opera performances were inserted by Rich into the repertoire under a special contract with Handel's company. From 1737 this was no longer possible as under the Theatre Licensing Act an Opera Patent was created which gave the King's Theatre the exclusive right to present opera just as Drury Lane and Covent Garden retained the exclusive right to present drama. Up to 1737 Rich had ensured that it was Handel who lost the money presenting opera at Covent Garden.
Quite different was the mutually profitable deal struck by Handel with John Rich for oratorios 'staged' at Covent Garden on Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent, initially from 1743 until March 1751 when the theatres were temporarily closed on the death of the Prince of Wales, and subsequently up to Handel's death in 1759 and beyond, until at least the fire of 1808. The arrangement pleased Handel; to his roster of singers were added members of the Covent Garden company and boy choirs engaged for the few performances of each new oratorio or revival. Up to a dozen performances of five oratorios were staged each Lent. Prices for the oratorios at Covent Garden approached those charged at the King's Theatre for operas. Horace Walpole commented in February 1743 'Handel has set up an Oratorio against the Operas and succeeds'. He added, in typical waspish style 'He has hired all the goddesses from farce and singers of Roast Beef between the acts at both theatres'. (28)
Putting to one side the seasons when London had two rival opera companies and those when it had none (between June 1750 and November 1753 after manager Dr. John Goza absconded with the takings), the custom at the King's Theatre was to divide the repertoire between opera seria and opera buffa, both sung in Italian. In the 1747 season the proportion of performances was thirty-one of five serious operas to four of one comic opera. In 1767/68, which was the peak for opera at the King's Theatre, the split of the total of seventy-one performances in the season was seventeen of five serious to fifty-four of five comic which indicates a decline in the taste of the town for opera seria.
The operas were, with the exception of Handel's, almost entirely foreign, as were the principal singers. The greatest of the castrati of the period, Farinelli, who never worked for Handel, and Senesino, who did, drew the town. Such casting was not the norm for the oratorios: only very rarely did Handel employ castrati--for example Ricciarelli in only one of the many performances of The Messiah and Guadagni in 1750, also in The Messiah and in the premiere of Theodora as Didymus, but these were exceptions.
From November 1734 onwards, for almost all the first performances of both Handel's operas and oratorios the tenor role was sung by John Beard. Beard was only 17 in 1734. He had been a treble in the Children of the Chapel Royal and he had first sung for Handel as the Priest of the Israelites in Esther in 1732. When his voice broke and he was discharged from the choir Handel took him up immediately. Beard's stage debut was at Covent Garden on 9 November 1734 as Silvius in II Pastor Fido before the King. Lady Compton recorded in her diary, 'Mr. Handel is so full of Beard's praises that he says he will surprise the Town with his performances before the Winter is over'. (29) He did, taking leading roles in two premieres and three revivals during that season. He sang more parts under Handel than any other singer: fifteen operas and all but one of the oratorios, masques and odes. (30)
Beard stayed at Covent Garden until 1737, moved to Drury Lane for six seasons until 1743 then spent five years at Covent Garden. In 1748 Garrick brought him back to Drury Lane. He finally returned to Covent Garden in 1759 when he married Charlotte Rich. This was five years after the death of his aristocratic first wife, Lady Harriet Herbert, widow of Lord Edward Herbert and daughter of the first Earl Waldegrave, and hence a granddaughter of James II. Both marriages served Beard well: position and money from the first and from the second control over the Theatre Royal Covent Garden. And both marriages were happy for this convivial man who was a member of the Sublime Society of Beefsteaks, which had been founded by John Rich at Covent Garden in 1735, and had William Hogarth and George Lambert as founder members plus, later, Dr. Johnson and John Wilkes.
Beard hardly ever appeared in a speaking as opposed to a singing role. He played all the great roles in ballad operas from Tile Beggar's Opera onwards and, later, commissioned more. He never appeared in Shakespeare. But he had enormous personality. Within a month of his return to Covent Garden in 1759 he starred as Macheath, a part which he had occasionally played for Garrick at Drury Lane, with a newcomer Charlotte Brent, who was a protegee and, some say, mistress of Thomas Arne. Brent made her debut as Polly in her first appearance at Covent Garden on 10 October 1759. They then played the piece for thirty-five consecutive nights with the exception of November 4 or 5 when each year, in celebration of the accession of William III, Tamerlayne was performed. The Beggar's Opera was performed for fifty-two nights in 1759/60 out of a total of 181 performances in the whole season. This is unparalleled for a single work at Covent Garden and for The Beggar's Opera at any time in the eighteenth century after the original run of sixty-three days in 1728. Later Beard scored a similar success in Isaac Bickerstaffe's ballad opera Love in a Village, with music by Thomas Arne and others, as Hawthorn. This was significant as being one of the few roles in which he was painted, by Johann Zoffany in 1766, with Edward Shorter and John Dunstall. The lack of portraits of Beard--there is none at the Garrick Club--may partly account for his fading from theatre history.
The theatrical context of The downfall of Shakespeare, as represented on a modern stage can also be examined more briefly and over a shorter time, that is from the start of the season 1760/1761.
At Drury Lane Garrick was well established. The newly crowned King George III chose Drury Lane for one of his first public appearances, to see Garrick play Richard of Gloucester in Richard III, and returned before Christmas to see Garrick and Thomas Sheridan in King John. John Rich was envious of such royal patronage and its effect on the box office. The two theatres were roughly the same size; when Garrick asked his rival how many could be packed in to Covent Garden Rich replied slyly that Garrick would have to appear there to establish the answer. In the calendar years 1761 and 1762 Garrick performed for an average of 110 nights, a figure exceeded by him only in 1746. On 13 September 1763 the Garricks left to make the Grand Tour of Europe, to return two seasons later on 27 April 1765--around the time of exhibition of The downfall of Shakespeare, as represented on a modern stage.
Garrick had come out well in the first edition of Charles Churchill's coruscating satire, The Rosciad. Rich had not. He was epitomised thus:
On one side Folly sits, by some called Fun, And on the other, his arch patron, Lun. (31)
Through the six editions of The Rosciad Churchill castigated those who strayed from the path of Shakespeare and true acting. Both Harlequin and opera are equally held up to ridicule. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Dawes knew Churchill since the theatregoing public was small in number and they obviously shared similar views.
In 1761 Rich died in the middle of a run of twenty-three consecutive performances of Henry V, from 13 November to 9 December, Sundays excluded. Henry V had been chosen as much as a patriotic pageant in celebration of the new King (Garrick's parallel Henry VIII was much less successful). Between 10 December and 24 May 1762 Henry V and its successor, Henry IV Part II, was played twenty times. Both were also a celebration of more recent victories over the French. In 1759 the score had been England five France nil: Guadeloupe; Minden; Lagos Bay; Quebec and Quiberon Bay, all in seven months. Garrick had celebrated with his own Harlequin's Invasion at the turn of the year. This featured the hit song Hearts of Oak and introduced King Shakespeare at the head of an army of yokels who repel the French poltroons, aided by a foreign, and therefore despicable, Harlequin.
But which of the two patent houses could claim to be the home of Shakespeare? It is generally thought that it was Drury Lane. However, an examination of some of the main pieces at both houses, performed in the seasons 1758/59, 1759/60, 1760/61, 1761/62, 1762/63, 1763/64, 1764/65 and 1765/66 show significant shifts in emphasis.
Musical theatre in the chart above includes The Beggar's Opera, The Jovial Crew, Love in a Village, The Maid of the Mill and Summer's Tale as ballad or pasticcio operas; Comus and Alfred as masques; The Capricious Lovers (aka Amintas), Almena, Pharnaces, Midas and Artaxerxes as operas and all Lenten oratarios.
It was patriotic sentiment, occasioned by the coronation of George III, which boosted the performances of Shakespeare at both houses in 1761/62. The huge increase of musical performances at Covent Garden in 1759/60 had been the result of Beard's arrival and the record-breaking run of The Beggar's Opera. Artaxerxes was simply the most serious and most Italian of Beard's many subsequent musical successes.
Comparisons between the proportion of Shakespeare to musical theatre performances at both theatres over these eight seasons show significant shifts in emphasis. When counting the Shakespeare performances it is necessary to state that both Florizel and Perdita and Catherine and Petruchio (The Winter's Tale and The Taming of tile Shrew) were often given as afterpieces at Drury Lane, having been cut by half in length. Generally these are the only afterpieces included in these comparisons. Hence the many Harlequin pantomimes do not figure since these were almost certainly never played as mainpieces.
A close examination of the painting by William Dawes (Plate 4) both uncovers further mysteries and helps narrow the likely dates for its painting.
The artist has replaced the statues of Thalia and Melpomene, which were positioned each side of the proscenium arch at Covent Garden (see Plate 2), with very different figures. Stage right there is a satyr, which refers back to the satyrs of Lincoln's Inn Fields that can be seen in the later versions of Hogarth's The Beggar's Opera. On stage left there is a Scaramouche figure, similar to the actor stage left in Vandergucht's engraving of 1735 (Plate 2). The lower boxes are those of Covent Garden with their distinctive, and unusual for the period, bombe section, though with asses' heads added. The upper boxes are not shown, which has allowed the artist to use the upper parts of the frontispiece as significant settings for extensions of his satire.
Over the stage is a motto in a cartouche: neither VIVITUR INGENIO nor VELUTI IN SPECULUM but VOX ET PRAETEREA NIHIL. This is a Latin version, familiar in the eighteenth century, of Plutarch's Greek original to be found in the Moralia, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], written circa AD 95. A starving Spartan plucked and cooked a nightingale and, finding almost no meat, said 'You're all voice and nothing else.' The motto on a building or a coat of arms was generally in Latin rather than English or Greek. Dawes' public knew their Latin.
The stage picture and associated frontispiece give an accurate impression of the scale and character of the Georgian playhouse. In 19901 noted in Early Music:
This is a surprisingly accurate presentation of the stage and forestage of Covent Garden, at that time a modestly sized theatre.... There are many 18th century paintings of performers, some engravings of the actor audience relationship, but few pictures. However, after Hogarth's suite of Beggar's Opera paintings of 1726 to 1730 there are few paintings which depict as delicately as does Dawes this the most magical part of our theatre, the part where audience and actor interact. It reminds how much smaller were theatres in England before the 1790's, smaller even than the Cuvillies Theatre in Munich of 1753, where Mozart worked, or Bibiena's Opernhaus in Bayreuth, created in 1747 by the Margrave Wilhelmina, herself both a patron and a composer of opera, which first attracted Wagner to the city. (91-4)
But this is to value Hogarth's Marriage a la Mode only as a record of Georgian domestic interior decoration. What is happening on Dawes' stage is as complex as any image by Hogarth. To explain this let us divide stage and frontispiece into stage right and stage left, leaving the actors centre until last.
The stage right is dominated by a satyr, as has been previously noted, in place of a muse. Unlike the satyrs at Lincoln's Inn's Fields this satyr holds a pipe, signalling that the target for this side of the stage is music and opera. The only other satyr with a pipe is stage right in Hogarth's A performance of 'The Indian Emperor or the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards' of 1732-5. This records a performance by a company of children in the house of John Conduitt in a remarkably complete fit-up stage with side wings, backcloth, lighting rings, a raised stage and, stage right, on a plinth, a full size comic muse with, at her feet, a baby satyr playing the Pan's pipe. (32) Whether this was Hogarth's invention, signifying that the players were children, or a record of the fit-up stage we do not know.
Above the pipe-playing satyr in the Dawes painting are scales which record that musical instruments have outweighed the tragic crown and sceptre. The backcloth shows, on the right, the Roman tomb of Gaius Cestius, a tribune of the first century AD, which must have been familiar to the fashionable from the plate in Giovanni Piranesi's Le Antichita Romane, published in four volumes in 1756, and two further views in Vedute di Roma, which had been published as 137 individual plates from the mid 1740s onwards. These had reached Britain in the portmanteaux of the Grand Tourists and had contributed to Piranesi's election as an honorary member of the Society of Antiquaries in London in 1757. The pyramid was considered in the eighteenth century and still is today as a slightly suspect symbol of foreign and exotic power. The locale of the opera is, in fact, the court of Xerxes, the great King of the Persians. In 2006 English architects Foster and Partners completed a pyramid for the President of Kazakhstan with a 1,500-seat top-lit opera house at the apex. For pharaoh or president, in life and in death, the pyramid remains the ultimate status symbol.
The frontispiece stage left shows the victory in the scales of 'Pantomime' and 'The Favourite Song' over the works of Shakespeare, Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher and Congreve. Below on the plinth, in place of the muse, is Scaramouche who was familiar from the pantomimes. That the target on this side of the stage is pantomime is confirmed by the windmill on the backcloth, balancing the pyramid stage right.
Windmills lined the Thames in the eighteenth century and were the main source of power in flat areas such as East Anglia where water power was weak. The miller was a prominent person in rural England, a vital link in the food chain between farmer and baker. It was not surprising that the miller and his mill, wind or water, should feature in many a pantomime or ballad opera--such as Bickerstaffe's The Maid of the Mill of 1765 where the mill stands prominently upstage centre in John Inigo Richards' well-known scene of 1768. (33)
The miller was most prominent in The Necromancer or, Harlequin Dr. Faustus created by Rich in 1724 in opposition to Drury Lane's Harlequin Dr. Faustus in 1724--see the discussion above on the 1724 engraving A Just View of the British Stage (Plate 1).
Various editions of Rich's pantomime survive. Some commence with a history of Dr. Faustus and Marlowe's play. (34) All include the dialogue. But only those which print descriptions of the action on stage can convey the whole of this spectacular afterpiece in which the central character, Dr. Faustus/Harlequin, played by John Rich, does not speak.
After an establishing scene with good spirits, bad spirits and Helen of Troy appearing in the Doctor's study the scene dissolves into a Country Prospect, a Farm-House etc. and the Mill. The Doctor fancies the Miller's wife and the Miller, having been tripped up,
sees him making Love to his Wife at the Window; and in the utmost Rage makes up after him. Upon this the Doctor gets up the Top of the Mill; the Miller pursues him, and courses around it several times; at last the Doctor slips away, and runs down the Stairs: The Miller, after searching for him above to no purpose, looks down, perceives him, and makes after him: the Doctor finding the Miller at his Heels, catches hold of one of the Sails of the Windmill, and climbs up to Top, where he makes several Mockeries of the Miller; who enrag'd at that and his former ill Treatments, follows him up the sail and endeavours to come at him: the Doctor by his Art immediately sets the Mill a going; and the poor Miller, fixed to the Sail, keeps continually turning round; during which the Doctor makes his Escape with his Wife.
We are soon back in the Doctor's study where Hero and Leander are conjured. Charon rows them across the Stygian Lake. The Doctor, with his wand, then changes the scene to a wood, a monstrous Dragon appears dropping daemons and swallows Doctor Faustus.
Now triumph Hell and Fiends be gay The Sorc'rer is become our Prey. (At the end of the Chorus, the Curtain falls)
But for all the fires of hell it was the scene with the Miller that audiences remembered. (35) As early as 1724, the year of the first performance of The Necromancer or, Harlequin Dr. Faustus, Hogarth depicted Harlequin and the windmill top right in his engraving Masquerades and Operas. In a later engraving of Rich, The Harlequin (Plate 3), the windmill, complete with the Miller tied to a sail, is to be seen between the legs of Harlequin. The farm is to the right with the Miller in front bearing a sack of corn, which Harlequin Dr. Faustus animates later in the play. Presumably, Dr. Faustus's house is on the other side with Harlequin holding his wand in his right hand. This he used to turn the house into a wood, seen behind the house, where the hellish Dragon swallows Harlequin Dr. Faustus to close the play.
These three vignettes, with the windmill in the centre, are drawn in above the shadow of the ground on which Harlequin stands. They would appear to be by another hand when compared with the figure of Harlequin which Sheila O'Connell of the British Museum suggested to me might be of French or Italian origin. Strip away everything other than this figure and the darker ground on which he stands--text, frame, vignettes and even the awkwardly grasped slapstick--and the figure might well be by Nicolas Bonnart (1637-1718) or Claude Gillot (1673-1722) both of whom engraved Commedia dell' Arte figures in the decade before Rich's triumph as Dr Faustus Necromancer in 1724. The plate could have been 'acquired' and the rest added. The whole would then amount to as skilful a piece of theatrical 'puff' by manager Rich as his contemporary attack on Drury Lane with A Just View of the British Stage (Plate 1).
On both sides of the stage in the Dawes painting the spectators in the stage boxes are carefully delineated and recall the Hogarth series of The Beggar's Opera of 1728/30 where, at the smaller Lincoln's Inn Fields, the spectators sat on stage, something Garrick abolished at Drury Lane in 1762. This practice was also abolished at Covent Garden, possibly a few years earlier. So Dawes, in making a nod towards the well known Hogarth paintings, had to put his hypothetical audience in the carefully delineated stage boxes.
Stage right, the side satirising the opera and those that patronised it, there are three women and a man half seen. At the front is a young blue-stocking dressed appropriately in blue, following the score or text--books of the opera were regularly advertised in the playbill as being for sale in the theatre. Artaxerxes was, surprisingly, sung in English in an adaptation from the Italian by Arne himself. Beside her is a swooning young lady, who must be an adoring fan of John Beard who had attracted the ladies ever since he first sang Macheath. The third is a berouged harridan in jutting profile. All could be caricatures of opera habitues of Covent Garden or the King's Theatre.
Stage left we would expect to find caricatures of the intellectually challenged who preferred pantomime to plays. But there is a surprise here since three of the occupants can be positively identified. In the summer of 1762 the King of the Cherokees, Ostenaco, was brought to London to meet King George III by Ensign Henry Timberlake. This visit was a repeat of an earlier royal visit, of the four Indian Princes to the court of Queen Anne in 1710. The motive then had been military: to seek the co-operation of the Mohawks and neighbouring tribes against the French. Their visit included a performance of Macbeth at the Queen's Theatre in the Haymarket on 24 April. They were moved from the pit to a stage box as the public were more interested in them than in the players. Fifty-two years later the motives were the same: Britain needed allies against the French. King Ostenaco was accompanied by two other Cherokees, Pouting Pigeon and Stalking Turkey. They were lionised. Ostenaco was painted by Joshua Reynolds and Francis Parsons. They were taken on official tours to St. Paul's, Parliament and Woolwich Dockyard and were gawped at when they visited Vauxhall Gardens. Timberlake noted that:
The uncommon appearance of the Cherokees began to draw after them great crowds of people of all ranks; at which they were so much displeased that home became irksome to them, and they were forever teizing me to take them to some public diversion. Their favourite was Sadler's-Wells; the activity of the performers, and the machinery of the pantomime, agreeing best with their notion of diversion. (36)
The pint of wine handed out at the entrance of Sadler's Wells to every theatregoer may have helped the Cherokees' enjoyment.
They could not have visited Covent Garden since it had closed for the summer by the time they arrived at the end of June. They left on 25 August before the opening of the season 1762/63. The important thing was that the Cherokees were well pleased and made peace with the Governor of Virginia, which then stretched west to the Mississippi, within which territory were the Cherokee lands. The London visit had been an important factor. That the Cherokees delighted the public is suggested both by Hogarth's engraving of 7 September 1762, which shows on the left a naked savage captioned 'Alive from America', wearing a smile and a skirt of flasks and standing between two barrels, as he jingles two bags of coins, and by Garrick's success at Christmas 1762 with his new pantomime, The Witches or Harlequin Cherokee.
In the painting Dawes adds further ridicule to what is happening on stage by suggesting it is thought fit for the ignorant visitors. The accompanying gentleman in the green coat must be Timberlake and the dusky man behind either Pouting Pigeon or Stalking Turkey. The fourth man is also a caricature, though of whom is not known. His eyes are fixed steadfastly on the bosoms of the soprano, Miss Brent. Opportunities to ogle also drew the intellectually challenged to the theatre.
Presiding at the harpsichord, providing the continuo and appropriately seated on the stage right (opera) side is Dr. Thomas Arne, whose long nose is familiar from an engraving of the composer at the keyboard taken from the much later drawing by Francesco Bartolozzi. (37) The four musicians in the centre could also be caricatures. Three are facing outwards which was normal practice when a single music stand ran parallel to the stage. Those nearest the stage faced out and across the stand to those musicians facing the singers. Here the player of the natural trumpet faces the singers.
On stage is a variation on the opening of Artaxerxes, based on a libretto by Metastasio that had been first set by Vinci in 1730 and then, also before Arne, by Gluck, Hasse, J.C. Bach and others. (38) After Arne it is said that sixty other composers used the same story including Paisiello and Cimarosa. There are six principal characters and a chorus which sings only in the finale. At the first performance on 2 February 1762 the ladies were Miss Brent as Mandane, here on stage, and Miss Thomas (later substituted by Mrs. Vernon) as Samira. The gentlemen, both tenors, were John Beard as Artabanes, here seen between Shakespeare and Miss Brent, and George Mattocks as Rimenes. The last two members of the cast were castrati: Peretti making his first appearance on an English stage as Artaxerxes and Tenducci as Arbaces, son of Artabanes. Tenducci was both famous and notorious: famous in that he performed successfully in England, Scotland and Ireland for thirty years from his arrival in London (Mozart is said to have composed a song for him); notorious in that he eloped with the daughter of a Dublin councillor whose family had the wedding annulled. In Tobias Smollett's novel Humphrey Clinker (1771) Lydia Melford says:
I heard the famous Tenducci, a thing from Italy--it looks for all the world like a man, though they say it is not. The voice to be sure is neither man's nor woman's but it is more melodious than either, and it warbled divinely, that while l listened l really thought myself in paradise.
The opera starts with the villainous general Artabanes (Beard) entering having just killed Xerxes, King of Persia. He carries a bloody sword. He exchanges swords with his son Arbaces (Tenducci) in a dastardly attempt to pin the regicide on him. Mandane, daughter of the late Xerxes (Brent), is in love with Arbaces who is arrested and is finally freed. The good end happily and Artabanes is foiled.
This raises the question of whether the character holding the bloody dagger/sword is Artabanes (Beard), who has killed Xerxes off stage, or Arbaces, the castrato who has unwittingly received the incriminating dagger. Does it matter? Dawes's point is that it is Shakespeare who has been killed by the outlandishly dressed opera singers.
Are the outlandish costumes an additional joke at the expense of opera production of the period? Such costumes were the standard dress for tragedies set in classical times in both playhouses and opera houses. Evidence for this is reasonably plentiful: Quin as Coriolanus in 1749 (an engraving often erroneously attributed to Hogarth) and Mr. Garrick in the Character of the Roman Father at Drury Lane, 24 February 1750, from The Universal Magazine of 1750. (39) The only strange thing is that the large male 'skirt' was a convention for Roman not Persian heroes. The convention for 'orientals' of the same period is pantaloons, which are what the leading characters wear both in the familiar 1763 engraving of the Fitzgigio riots, in protest at the abolition of half-price entry after the mainpiece, at a performance of Artaxerxes at Covent Garden on 25 February 1763 (Plate 5) and in the less familiar engraving of Charles Reinhold as Artabanes and Mrs. Farrell as Artaxerxes in a performance of Artaxerxes at Covent Garden on 10 March 1777 (Plate 7). It is possible that Dawes and others found the male skirt ridiculous and hence switched from the pantaloons to underline his satire. The costume of Charlotte Brent in the Dawes painting is simply a superb exaggeration of that shown in the 1763 engraving (Plate 5). Thus the costumes in the painting are a further twist to the satire. Incidentally both of these engravings show an interior rather than an exterior for the setting of Artaxerxes.
Down right the slain Shakespeare clutches texts of Lear and Merry Wives of Windsor. The singer has trampled underfoot what might be Othello, the title being almost illegible. The image of Shakespeare is typically eighteenth-century as re-imagined by the sculptors Rysbrack, Scheemakers, Cheere, Roubiliac and Banks, between 1735 and 1790. (40) The closest resemblance is the rarely known copy of the Chandos portrait made by Roubiliac around 1758, as a study for the great full-length sculpture commissioned by Garrick for his temple to Shakespeare at Hampton (Plate 6). (41) This image has the long face which Dawes has given to Shakespeare in The downfall of Shakespeare, represented on a modern stage.
Over the harpsichord is a playbill bearing the words 'Downfall of Shakespeare. Ladies are desired to send their servants....' This is typical: for example the playbill for a performance of Artaxerxes on 2 May 1764 contained the words 'Ladies are desired to send servants at 3 o'clock', this being the way the best seats were assured for a great occasion. Lastly there is the signature, which is hard to read, bottom right. It seems to read 'pt or PT [the two letters merged together as a monogram which is more familiar in silver marks but here suggests an abbreviation of pinxit] Dawes 1765'. The last figure appears to have been disturbed: one would like it to be a '3' changed to a '5'. 1763 is more likely to have been the occasion for the painting of the picture--the Cherokees visited in 1762 shortly after the premiere of Artaxerxes and 1765 the date of exhibition. Dawes exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1761, and at the Free Society in 1762, 1763 and 1765. Why he did not exhibit in 1764 is not known. Possibly the painting took time to develop so packed it is with allusion. Possibly Dawes was ill.
Artaxerxes was performed ten times in 1762 at Covent Garden between 2 February and 24 April. A few other performances, or more likely excerpts, were given that summer at the King's Theatre and Ranelagh. Then, in the 1762/63 season, again during the span of the opera season at the King's Theatre, thirteen performances were given at Covent Garden. In the 1763/64 season ten performances were given, 1764/65 eight performances. It was the performance on 24 February 1763 at which the riots took place which were not aimed at the opera itself but at reinstating half-price admission at the end of Act III of the mainpiece (Plate 5).
It was not only Dawes who was indignant at the substitution of opera seria for Shakespeare. Charles Churchill, poet and former vicar, constantly expanded and updated his Rosciad in several editions between 1761 and 1763. He attacked Artaxerxes in a later edition:
Let Tommy Arne, with usual pomp of style Whose chief, whose only merit's to compile, Who, meanly pilf'ring here and there a bit, Deals music out as Murphy deals with Wit, Publish proposal, laws for taste proscribe, And chant the praise of an Italian tribe; But never shall a truly British Age, Bear vile race of eunuchs on the stage. That boast'd work's called National in vain, If one Italian voice pollute the strain. Where tyrants rule, and slaves with joy obey Let slavish minstrels pour th'enervate lay; To Britons far more noble pleasures spring In native notes while Beard and Vincent sing. (42)
John Genest in his Some Account of the English Stage from the Restoration in 1660 to 1830, 1832, applies, inaccurately but delightfully, a couplet Churchill meant for playwright Murphy, of whom he also disapproved:
Then o'er the stage they Folly's standard bore While Common Sense stood trembling by the door (43)
The actors, whose salaries depended largely on the number of performances they gave, were equally indignant. Beard commissioned two light pasticcios, Love in a Village, assembled by Arne from seventeen different composers, which was first given on 8 December 1762 and The Maid of the Mill by Samuel Arnold and others, first performed on 31 January 1765. But these, like The Beggar's Opera and The Jovial Crew, (44) offered parts for actors who could sing and emphatically did not involve the importing of Italian castrati. Nevertheless, Artaxerxes seemed to some to form the thin end of a wedge; since the opera at the King's Theatre was always in trouble perhaps Beard intended to fill that vacuum and change the whole direction of Covent Garden. David Ross, who played leading roles at Covent Garden between 1757 and 1773, while still finding time to open Edinburgh's first patent house in 1767, confided to George Colman:
My present situation is most irksome to me and must be to any gentleman or man of merit in his profession to have such an ignorant and ill bred fellow as B[eard] presume to conduct the business of a Theatre Royal, of which he is totally ignorant [, Beard] despises every degree of merit that is not compris'd in sol fa and wishes the theatre only to substitute as an opera house. (45)
However Beard's policy worked at the box office. In The Rosciad Churchill reports:
Next came the Treasurer of either House One with full purse, t'other with not a SOUS. (46)
Genest quotes Thomas Davies' Memories of the Life of David Garrick, written 1780, on the situation at the end of the 1762/63 season--with a comment that Davies could be talking of 59/60 since the references are to Polly not Mandane:
The profits of D.L. at the close of this season fell very short in their amounts to those of preceding years--this was owing to the musical pieces at C.G. and particularly to Miss Brent, who came out in Polly--in vain did Garrick oppose his Ranger and Benedick, his Hamlet and Lear to Polly Peachum--the public was this season allured by nothing but the power of sound and sing-song. Shakespeare and Garrick were obliged to quit the field to Beard and Brent. (v. 24-5)
That Brent had a superlative soprano was generally acknowledged. The author of the Rational Review (1767) wrote:
In airs melodious when her accents float Our souls in rapture dwell upon each note.
But the actor Francis Gentleman wrote in his Dramatic Censor of 1770 of Charlotte Brent's performance in The Maid of the Mill that she
had such amazing influence on the original performance of this piece, that we doubt whether, in that respect, the stage will ever find her equal; as to the speaking, she was much worse than anyone we have ever heard. (47)
Dawes' florid portrayal of Charlotte Brent as Mandane in this picture leaves us in no doubt that she was a singer rather than an actor.
William Tooke, in his 1804 foreword to The Rosciad, uses some of the same words as Thomas Davies when reporting that Beard succeeded with Miss Brent in The Beggar's Opera and then:
Beard followed his blow with the popular opera of Artaxerxes, the public were allured by nothing but the power of sound and sing song. Shakespeare and Garrick were obliged to quit the field to Beard and Brent. It is thought that this success of Covent Garden in 1763 contributed not a little to Garrick's determination of visiting the continent that year.
Garrick did leave on 15 September 1763, two days before the season opened, and did not return until 27 April 1765, missing two whole seasons during which Beard at Covent Garden, with hit musicals and his one 'Italian' opera, Artaxerxes, was more than a match for Messrs. George Colman, James Lacy and William Powell at Drury Lane. Only Garrick's return for the 1765/66 season and Beard's retirement from the stage in May 1767 enabled Drury Lane to regain the ascendancy.
Artaxerxes turned out to be an enduring success at Covent Garden and was constantly revived. It continued to be performed regularly in Britain up to the end of the century, that is after the death of its composer in 1778--something that never happened to Handel's operas after his death in 1759. Only Handel's oratorios continued to be played while revivals of operas had to wait until Germany in the 1920s. Artaxerxes was performed in New York and in Edinburgh in 1821. It remained in the English repertoire until 1830. Dame Joan Sutherland has frequently included some of Mandane's arias in her repertoire, in particular The soldier, tired of war's alarms in the opera's penultimate scene. But the whole piece has not been given a stage performance in living memory.
Was it a great opera? The loss of Handel's library in the fire of 1808 means that what remains of the score lacks both the recitatives and the finale. But Henry Bishop, musical director at Covent Garden from 1810 to 1824, pieced together a version used in the early nineteenth century. Perhaps Arne's Artaxerxes awaits a Raymond Leppard who so imaginatively recreated much of the half-lost Monteverdi operas.
From 1762 to 1765 Artaxerxes had more supporters than detractors. Beard had met critics half way as the opera was sung in English, though all said the lyrics, which were Arne's, were second-rate. But the detractors fastened on Beard and Brent being singers rather than actors, on the castrati and on the sheer inappropriateness of such an opera seria in one of London's two playhouses. It is interesting to note that when Artaxerxes was revived in 1768 at Covent Garden and thereafter the two castrato roles were sung by women (Plate 7).
Both the success of Artaxerxes and the counter attack by Churchill, by Ross and also, as it now seems from this research, Dawes, were significant. The downfall of Shakespeare, represented on a modern stage was a salvo across Beard's bows. The town may have relished Beard and Brent in the ballad operas--The Beggar's Opera, The Jovial Crew and Love in a Village--but would not permit Beard to turn Covent Garden into an Italian opera house, albeit with an opera seria sung in English and composed by a Briton. The castrati henceforth were to confine themselves to London's opera house, the King's Theatre in the Haymarket, where the soprano Camilla Mattei struggled to balance the books with no more than sixty performances a year between 1758 and 1763. In the first quarter of the eighteenth century audiences had allowed the castrati to sing leading male roles, but not without opposition.
By the 1760s the town was becoming less interested in the castrati and more interested in the sopranos, Mattei, Mingotti and Gabrielli at the King's Theatre and Charlotte Brent at Covent Garden. The castrati disappeared even from the King's Theatre by 1805, save for Giovanni Batista Veluti in 1825 whose first note 'gave a start of surprise almost of disgust to inexperienced ears'. England would have to wait two centuries for the counter tenor rather than contralto to take over the castrato parts while France discovered the haute-contre.
Beard was pre-eminent as a romantic tenor, well before the term was invented. The Beggar's Opera, The Jovial Crew, and his new commissions, Love in a Village and The Maid of the Mill, were all great personal successes as well as filling the coffers of Covent Garden in a way that Drury Lane could only envy.
That Artaxerxes was a step too far for public taste is demonstrated by the fact that no further opera seria, new English or imported Italian, succeeded at either Covent Garden or Drury Lane for the rest of the eighteenth century. Arne did not compose a second opera seria and his next works included, in addition to Love in a Village, The Golden Pippin, The Guardian Outwitted and Achilles in Petticoats, billed respectively as a pasticcio opera, an English burletta, a comic opera and lastly (and surely ironically) 'an opera'. Meanwhile opera, both seria and buffa blossomed at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket: in the twenty-five annual seasons prior to the premiere of Artaxerxes at Covent Garden the holders of the opera patent averaged thirty-four performances a season and for the twenty-five seasons after averaged sixty-six performances.
Arne continued to work predominately for Covent Garden. Garrick had never really got on well with him although in 1769 at Stratford not only was Arne commissioned to write the music for Garrick's Ode Upon Dedicating a Building and Erecting a Statue to Shakespeare--neither ode nor music being of compelling interest as was demonstrated by a revival of both at Dartington International Summer School in 2000--but also Arne was honoured by Garrick with a performance of his oratorio Judith at the Great Shakespeare Jubilee when no play by Shakespeare, only the oratorio by Arne, was given a live performance. This did not stop Garrick inserting in his file, later in 1776, a copy of a short letter:
Dear Sir, I have read your play and rode your horse and do not approve of either .... (Designed for Dr. Arne, who sold me a horse, a very dull one, and sent me a comic opera ditto). (48)
The whole affair has slipped between the disciplines of theatre studies and musical research. In musical reference books such as Grove's Concise Dictionary of Music Beard's running of Covent Garden does not figure. In the Dictionary of National Biography of 1885 on the other hand Artaxerxes is not mentioned in the entry on Beard (the edition of 2004 is more balanced). There is no biography of Beard, the only prominent man of the eighteenth- or nineteenth-century theatres to span the worlds of opera, drama and theatre management. He was also the first actor to marry into the upper reaches of society. In 1766 Beard started to go deaf and so, with his wife, was happy to sell the patent of Covent Garden. (49) Priscilla Rich was a good businesswoman as she had obtained, in December 1765, an extension of the lease from the Duke of Bedford from 1792 to 1801. Thus with her four daughters and husband John Beard she got a good sum, 60,000 [pounds sterling], for both patent and lease, from Messrs. Thomas Harris, John Rutherford, William Powell and George Colman. The disputes that ensued among the three patentees after the death of Powell in 1769 blunted their rivalry to Garrick in the years leading up to the latter's retirement in 1776. Both of the two drama patent houses then went through complex re-arrangements of ownership in the period up to the rebuilds by Henry Holland of both houses, between 1791 and 1794, and the successive fires of 1808 and 1809. Management waters were for ever muddied: one looks back to the simplicity of the rivalries between Garrick and Rich from 1747 to 1761 and between Garrick and Beard from 1762 to 1766.
Dawes, Churchill and other satirists may well have succeeded in shaping the destiny of Covent Garden as a playhouse rather than an opera house for the next century. But I doubt if Beard was too much troubled at the time. His only venture into English 'Italian opera' had made a lot of money. The wit of William Dawes had little effect on the box office in the short term but it did, perhaps, stop a singer-actor-manager taking further liberties with the national poet. Shakespeare survived both the pirouetting of Harlequin and the introduction of the castrati in English/Italian opera at the Covent Garden playhouse.
Hitherto this championing of Shakespeare has been thought to have been the particular achievement of Garrick. Now we can recognise the important contribution by William Dawes.
A Key to (Plate 4) The Downfall of Shakespeare on a Modern Stage by William Dawes, exhibited 1765
1. Shakespeare has been killed by Artabanes: in the opera he murdered King Xerxes
2. John Beard, the tenor and manager of Covent Garden, plays Artabanes
3. Charlotte Brent is Mandane, in love with Arbaces who is falsely accused of the murder
4. Dr Thomas Arne at the keyboard and composer of the opera lampooned: Artaxerxes
5. Ostenaco, king of the Cherokees, visited London in 1762 and went to the theatre
6. Lieutenant Henry Timberlake brought Ostenaco from Virginia and wrote an account
7. Either Pouting Pigeon or Stalking Turkey who accompanied Ostenaco
8. Scaramouche, companion to Harlequin, has replaced the Muse of Comedy
9. The satyr, familiar at Lincoln's Inn Fields, ridicules opera with a bagpipe
10. Asses' heads have been added to the recognisable stage boxes of Covent Garden
11. Pantomime and The Favourite Song outweigh Shakespeare, Jonson, Congreve et al.
12. Musical instruments have outweighed the tragic crown and sceptre
13. Vox et Praeterea Nihil--voice and nothing else--replaces Veluti in Speculum
14. The tomb of Gaius Cestius, often engraved by Piranesi, represents opera seria
15. The windmill evokes John Rich's greatest success, Harlequin Dr Necromancer
16. Shakespeare clutches at Lear and Merry Wives of Windsor; Othello has been trampled
(1.) The Royal Opera House Retrospective 1732-1982 was held at the Royal Academy, London, in 1982/83, presented by the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. The catalogue, written by Geoffrey Ashton and Iain Mackintosh included as number 191 The Downfall of Shakespeare upon a modern stage, reproduced in colour.
(2.) The 1987 Brighton Festival included an exhibition, Set before a King, an exhibition from Drottningholm Court Theatre 1766-1792 at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, to which was added a curtain raiser, 'An Extravagant and Irrational Entertainment' Staging the opera in England 1632-1792 in which The Downfall of Shakespeare on a modern stage was presented under the title Vox et Praeterea Nihil, catalogue number 6.1. There was no illustration.
(3.) 'The Downfall of Shakespeare on a Modern Stage', Early Music, XVIII (1), 1990, 91-6. In 1990 its editor Nicholas Kenyon invited me to contribute to the occasional feature under the heading 'Iconography'. Although I was then unable to identify the performance and the occasion I agreed, in the hope that musicologists would answer some of the questions posed. Despite the central figures being reproduced in colour on the cover, and the whole in black and white inside, none did.
(4.) The Garrick Stage--Theatre and Audiences in the Eighteenth Century, Manchester, 1980. Sybil Rosenfeld edited the text by Allardyce Nicoll, who had died in 1976, and selected the 116 illustrations, all in black and white.
(5.) www.artnet.com/artist/698646/william-dawes.html (accessed 26 September 2007).
(6.) Elizabeth Einberg, 'Catalogue Raisonne of the Works of George Lambert', [Publications of the] Walpole Society, 63, (2001), 116.
(7.) John Nichols and George Steevens, The Genuine Works of Hogarth illustrated with Biographical Anecdotes, London, 1808, 419.
(8.) At the library of The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts there is a complete run, some printed and some in manuscript, of the catalogues of the Free Society of Artists and the Society of Artists of Great Britain (some under different soubriquets) extending from the first exhibition in 1760 to the last of the Society of Artists in 1791, some 23 years after the founding of the Royal Academy in 1768. The Society of Artists of Great Britain 1760-1791 by A. Graves (London, 1907, reprinted by Kingsmead, Bath, 1969) contains an alphabetical record by artist of the catalogue entries for both Societies.
(9.) The Georgian Playhouse--Actors, Artists, Audiences and Architecture 1730-1830 was staged by the Arts Council of Great Britain at the Hayward Gallery in London in 1975 and curated by Iain Mackintosh with the assistance of Geoffrey Ashton. Section XI, Box, Pit and Gallery, Theatre-going in London 1780-1830, contains an account of catalogue numbers 266a, 266b and 267, watercolours and coloured engravings of Thomas Rowlandson.
(10.) Despite attribution of Plate 1 to Hogarth by the doyen of Hogarthian scholars, Ronald Paulson, in all his editions of Hogarth's Graphic Works in 1965, 1970 and 1989, which followed much earlier catalogues by both Horace Walpole and John Nichols, doubt now exists. The 1997 attribution to Gerard Vandergucht referred to in the text must also be questioned on stylistic grounds since Gerard Vandergucht is definitely the artist of Plate 2, the very different 1735 engraving. In 2007 Sheila O'Connell of the British Museum e-mailed me: 'I've never felt that A Just View of the British Stage ... could be by Hogarth. It simply doesn't correspond to the style of his other prints. But I'm afraid I have not yet been able to come up with a convincing alternative.'
(11.) Unfortunately catalogue entry number 14 in The Georgian Playhouse--Actors, Audiences and Architecture 1730-1830 for John Thurmond's Pantomime Harlequin Dr. Faustus, Scene 11 (illustrated), is in error. This does not show Harlequin Dr. Faustus at Drury Lane, choreographed by Thurmond, but John Rich's The Necromancer or, Harlequin Dr. Faustus at Lincoln's Inn Fields, as the presence of satyrs rather than muses each side of the stage should have made obvious. Jeremy Barlow in his The Enraged Musician, Hogarth's Musical Imagery, London 2005, has an excellent discussion of A Just View of the British Stage in chapter 7, 'The Beggar's Opera and Italian opera'.
(12.) Barlow (109-11) cites the satirical poem Hudibras, by Samuel Butler (1612-1680) as the source for the hanging solo violinist, the character Crowdero ('crowd' being a colloquial term for 'fiddle'). Johnson's ghost pisses over a statue of Julius Caesar while the dragon emerging from the wings stage right recalls the final scene of The Necromancer or, Harlequin Dr. Faustus. Stage excrement is to be made of gingerbread: all very Hogarthian!
(13.) Quoted from Colley Cibber, An Apology for the Life of Mr Colley Cibber, ed R. W. Lowe, London, 1889. 11, 180-1
(14.) Originally published in the Gentleman's Magazine, October 1747, 491.
(15.) Performed once, 8 September 1750, and subsequently printed in the General Advertiser, 21 September 1750, and in the September 1750 issues of several magazines (see Mary E. Knapp, David Garrick, A Checklist of his Verse, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1955, 45).
(16.) The lines from the Epilogue by the comedian Joe Haines (c.1644-1701) are quoted from C. Stonehill, ed, The Complete Works of George Farquhar, London, MCMXXX, 74
(17.) Stevenson's Book of Proverbs, Maxims and Familiar Phrases. Selected and arranged by Burton Stevenson, London, 1949, 941.9 traces 'Vivitur ingenio: caetera mortis erunt' to Edmund Spenser's The Shepherd's Calendar (December, Colin's emblem). Spenser, he suggests, is probably quoting from Consolatio ad Liviam, written shortly after the death of Maecenas by an anonymous author.
(18.) 'Veluti in speculum: utile et dulce' is not easy to translate; only in Latin does it work as an apothegm. The first half means 'as if in a mirror'. The second half translates literally as 'useful and pleasant' or 'helpful and delightful'. The motto was over the proscenium arch at the third Lincoln's Inn Fields theatre, opened in 1714, but the first known illustration of it is in the final version of William Hogarth's scene from The Beggar's Opera painted in 1730, which may account for the unverifiable account that the motto was engendered by Gay's opera.
(19.) For explanations of theatrical aspects of the sequence of William Hogarth's sketch and paintings of The Beggar's Opera see The Royal Opera House Retrospective 1732-1982 catalogue numbers 181, 182, 183 & 184; 'Among Whores and Thieves': Hogarth and The Beggar's Opera and The Enraged Musician, all cited above or in the text.
(20.) The Royal Opera House Retrospective 1732-1982, catalogue number 200.
(21.) The Royal Opera House Retrospective 1732-1982, catalogue number 160.
(22.) The Georgian Playhouse, catalogue number 257.
(23.) The Georgian Playhouse, catalogue number 252.
(24.) The engravings by Gabriel-Martin Dumont, published in 1774, are reproduced and discussed in the Survey of London XXV (London, 1970) and also in The Development of the English Playhouse (London, 1973) by Richard Leacroft, who attaches one of his meticulous comparative reconstructions of Covent Garden 1732 to 1782.
(25.) The Royal Opera House Retrospective 1732-1982. The catalogue entry for number 199 (Plate 2) states correctly that this illustration was used in the 1759 edition of An Epistle from Theophilus Cibber to David Garrick but does not point out that it was a re-use of the 1735 frontispiece to Harlequin-Horace. See James Arnott & J. W. Robinson, English Theatrical Literature 1559-1900, London, 1970, 2106, 2197, 2617, 2618.
(26.) The prologue was first performed 3 February 1755 at Drury Lane and first printed in the Gentleman's Magazine, February 1755, 86 and the Scots Magazine, February 1755, 83. The text of The Fairies was a collaboration between the composer J. C. Smith and Garrick (see E W White, A Register of First Performances of English Operas and Semi-Operas from the 16th Century to 1980, London, 1983, and Knapp David Garrick, 41). Research for this paragraph, undertaken for my The Undisput'd Monarch of the English Stage, performed at the Old Vic by Prospect Theatre Company, 11 November 1979, to mark the 200th anniversary of Garrick's death, draws mainly on Arthur Murphy, The Life of David Garrick, London, 1801 and Thomas Davies, Memoirs of the Life of David Garrick Esq, London, 1780.
(27.) The Georgian Playhouse catalogue number 67
(28.) The Roast Beef of Old England was often called for by a jingoistic and restless gallery when bored by a performer. The gallery had to be placated if a minor riot was not to ensue.
(29.) Lady Compton's account is quoted in the entry on Beard in Philip Highfill, Jr., Kalman A. Burnim and Edmund A. Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, Carbondale, Ill., 1974, etc., 1,400-1.
(30.) John Beard's appearances in opera for Handel included: Esther (1732 & 1735); Pastor Fido (1734); Ariodante (1735); Debora (1735); Athalia (1735); Alcina (1735); The Royal Chase (1736); The Fear of Alexander (1736); Perseus and Andromeda (1736); Atalanta (1736); Pirus (1736); Aminius (1737); Justin (1737); Il trionfo del tempo e della verite (1737); Berenice (1737). It is said that Handel wrote tenor roles for Beard in almost all his oratorios: Israel in Egypt, Athalia, Messiah, Samson, Esther, Saul, Judas Maccabeus, Jeptha, Acis and Galataea, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, Alexander Balus, Semele, Hercules, Balshazzar, Joshua and, possibly, Theodora. Thomas Arne wrote the tenor role for Beard in his oratorio, Judith. As an actor he sang in The Miller of Mansfield, The Intriguing Chambermaid, Comus, The Lover's Opera, Harlequin Restor'd, Columbine Courtesan, The Provok'd Wife, Robin Goodfellow, The Committee, Rosamund, Lethe and Sir John Cockle. Beard's leading roles, all in musical theatre at Covent Garden, when the theatre was partially or wholly under his control between 1759 and 1766, included Macheath in The Beggar's Opera, Hearty in The Jovial Crew, the tenor role in Alfred the Great, Artabanes in Artaxerxes, Hawthorn in Love in a Village (in which he was painted on his retirement in 1766 by Johann Zoffany: one version belongs to the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre Trust and has until recently hung in the Theatre Museum; another is at the Yale Center for British Art), Giles in The Maid of the Mill, Sileno in Midas and Sir British Blunt in The Guardian Outwitted, which scarcely made its six performances. Beard was also the town's favourite singer of patriotic songs of the period: Rule Britannia, Come my Lads with Soul befitting, The famous Sea Fight at the Hague, When Glory invites, what Briton so mean ..., And we are gayly yet. Only his increasing deafness led to his leaving the stage while at the height of his career. He retired to a house in Hampton, close to Garrick's villa.
(31.) Charles Churchill's Rosciad was first published in 1761. These lines are numbered 667 and 668 in the 1804 edition edited by 'WT', revealed in a MS annotation in the copy in the Garrick Club library as William Tooke. The 1804 edition appears to be the sixth and final one published in Churchill's lifetime. There are many editions of the Rosciad, some of which do not number the lines, some of which do, although their numbering is not always consistent with one another.
(32.) The Conquest of Mexico is illustrated in almost all books on William Hogarth. For a short note on the involvement of Theophilus Cibber in this event see The Georgian Playhouse catalogue number 6.
(33.) The engraving, which can be found in many collections, was reproduced as Plate I in The Eighteenth Century English Stage, ed K. Richards and P. Thomson, London, 1972. The Maid of the Mill by Samuel Arnold and others, a pasticcio opera with a text by Isaac Bickerstaff, was first performed at Covent Garden, 31 January 1765.
(34.) The most helpful edition for understanding the Windmill scene is an undated 'description' of both plays. The title page is as follows:
An Exact/ DESCRIPTION/ OF the Two Fam'd/ ENTERTAINMENTS/ OF/ Harlequin Doctor Faustus;/ WITH THE/ Grand MASQUE of the Heathen Deities:/ AND THE/ NECROMANCER, / OR/ Harlequin Doctor Faustus./ As now Perform'd in Grotesque Characters,/ at both THEATRES./ CONTAINING/ The particular Tricks, Incidents, Songs, Dances, Alterations and Additions, throughout both/ Performances./ Regularly adjusted into distinct SCENES,/ With the Names of the Persons of both Dramas./ LONDON,/Printed for T.[?] Payne, at the Crown, near Sta-/ tioners-Hall, Price Six-pence).
A short Prologue tells of the success of both plays. The first is the Drury Lane version with John Thurmond (to whom-the text is sometimes attributed) as Mephistopheles and Mars. This played with same cast between 26 November and 27 December 1723 and was subsequently revived infrequently. The second is the Lincoln's Inn Fields version (Tile Necromancer) with John Rich as Doctor Faustus/Harlequin, which opened on 20 December 1723, becoming one of Rich's greatest successes. It was frequently revived. The volume includes only a description and no text for the Drury Lane version but a full text and extensive descriptions are given for The Necromancer. The description of the Windmill scene is taken from Scene VI of Tire Necromancer (29). That this is a description of what happened in performance on stage, rather than an authorial stage direction, is made clear if this description is compared with the shorter description in Scene IV of the Dublin edition of 1725 (A/ Dramatic Entertainment, / CALL'D THE/ NECROMANCER:/ OR, HARLEQUIN, Doctor FAUSTUS./ As Perform'd at the/ THEATRE-ROYAL/ IN/Lincoln's Inn Fields./ And at the /THEATRE in DUBLIN./ The Seventh Edition [...] DUBLIN [...] MDCCXXV, 12). I am grateful to Mark Howell-Meri for introducing me to these and other editions of the Faustus texts.
(35.) Phyllis T. Dicks discusses Rich's performance as Harlequin Dr. Faustus in Theatre Notebook, 49, 1995, 165-72.
(36.) The Memoirs of Lieutenant Henry Timberlake, London, 1765, 117-8. For identifying Ostenaco, King of the Cherokees, and for introducing me to these memoirs I must thank Dr. Jim Fowler of the Theatre Museum and Marcus Risdell, librarian of the Garrick Club.
(37.) Bartolozzi's sketch of Arne dates from 1782. The original is in the collection of H.M. the Queen at Windsor Castle. There are three engravings based on this and the one said to be the best is by James Gillray (1757-1815).
(38.) There is only one recording currently of Artaxerxes: Hyperion CDA 6705l/2, 2 discs. It was reconstructed and edited by Peter Holman, who was also Musical Director of The Parley of Instruments, conducted for this recording in 1995 by Roy Goodman. The tenor part of Artabanes, created originally by John Beard, was sung by Ian Partridge. A concert performance of Artaxerxes took place on 7 December 2002 at St. John's Smith Square performed by The Classical Opera Company, artistic director Ian Page. His programme notes are very useful and are available at www.classicalopera.co.uk/PF_Artaxerxes.htm
(39.) Quin as Coriolanus is illustrated in many books including Michael Booth et al., eds., The Revels History of Drama in English Volume Six (London, 1975) and John Ripley, Coriolanus on stage in England and America 1609-1994 (London, 1998). Mr. Garrick in the Character of the Roman Father, for the Universal Magazine of 1750, is reproduced in The Garrick Stage from a copy of the engraving in the Folger Shakespeare Library.
(40.) Michael Rysbrack (1684-1770), Peter Scheemakers (1691-1781), John Cheere (1709-87), Louis Francois Roubiliac (1695-1762) and Thomas Banks (1735-1805)
(41.) The provenance of this rarely reproduced painting is not widely known. It was acquired from the artist in February 1770 by Dr Maty, Principal Librarian at the British Museum, who two years later purchased sundry plaster busts and moulds, some of Shakespeare, at the sale that followed the death of Roubiliac. Dr Maty presented the painting to the British Museum, which sold it to the Ministry of Works (for 1 [pounds sterling]) in 1961. In the 1980s, having been identified by David Bindman, it returned to the British Museum on loan, where it was hung in the office of the Keeper of Medieval and Later Antiquities. It was subsequently 'rescued' by the Government Art Collection and is presently displayed, though sadly not prominently, at No. 10 Downing Street.
While checking proofs, new information was found on the Roubiliac oil copy of the Chandos portrait in The Plays of William Shakespeare in Seventeen Volumes with the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators to which are added Notes by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens revised and augmented by Isaac Reed esq, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Petersburg, Norfolk, 1809. On page 7 of an introductory essay, in which the claims of the Felton portrait are advanced, is a footnote which refers to the Chandos head:
A living artist, who was apprentice to Roubiliac, declares that when that elegant statuary undertook to execute the figure of Shakspeare for Mr Garrick, the Chandos portrait was borrowed; but it was, even then, regarded as a performance of suspicious aspect; though for want of a more authentic archetype, some few hints were received, or pretended to be received from it. Roubiliac, towards the close of his life, amused himself by painting in oil, though with little success. Mr Felton has his poor copy of the Chandos picture, in which our author exhibits the complexion of a Jew, or rather a chimney-sweeper in the jaundice. It is singular that neither Garrick, or his friends, should have desired Roubiliac at least to look at the two earliest prints of Shakespeare; and yet even Scheemaker is known to have had no other model for our author's head than the mezzotint by Zoust
I am grateful to Marcus Risdell for drawing this to my attention. A portrait by Zoust is item 169 in A Catalogue of Paintings in the Folger Shakespeare Library (William L. Pressly, New Haven, 1993). In a short entry Pressly infers the existence of a mezzotint in a reference to the Illustrated Catalogue of Rare Mezzotints and Other Engravings, Etchings etc (George Gregory, 1912), no. 378. However, the Folger portrait, oil on copper and 20.6 cm x 18cm, cannot be either the source or copy of the Zoust engraving in the Isaac Reed edition. The latter is oval and bears the legend 'Zoust pinxit'. It appears to be based on the painting by Gerard Soest (sic) at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon.
(42.) This quotation is lines 713-23 in the 1804 Rosciad edited by 'WT'.
(43.) See John Genest, Some Account of the English Stage from the Restoration in 1660 to 1830, Bath, 1832, VI, 651.
(44.) The Jovial Crew, a ballad opera after the play by Richard Brome with a text by E Roome, M Concanem and Sir William Younge, was first performed at Drury Lane on 8 February 1731. A revised version was staged for John Beard at Covent Garden, 14 February 1760.
(45.) See Biographical Dictionary, XIII, 107-8
(46.) 1804 Rosciad lines 305-6.
(47.) The Rational Review and Francis Gentleman's comments are quoted from the entry for 'Pinto, Mrs Thomas, the second, Charlotte, nee Brent' in the Biographical Dictionary (XII, 6-7)
(48.) Carola Oman tells this story in David Garrick, London 1953, 341
(49.) The Survey of London XXV, 75-76, details the will of John Rich (died 26 November 1761) and his instruction to his wife, Priscilla Rich, in respect of both the patent and the lease. The latter secured, in December 1764, an extension from 1792 to 1801 of the lease from the Duke of Bedford thus greatly increasing the combined value of patent plus lease, the purchase of which was completed on 1 July 1767.
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