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William Ward (1766 - 1826), engraver

Garrick in the Green Room



Museum number: XP20

Curatorial note

This fine mezzotint engraving is after a painting by Pietro Longhi in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, although Soane believed it was after Hogarth.

Garrick is shown delivering a scene from Shakespeare's play Macbeth to the Duke of Parma. The actor, on the right, gestures with his right hand as he recites and has his left arm over the arm of his chair and his left hand on his knee. Next to him, sitting on the floor, is a small dog. Under his chair are masks of Tragedy and Comedy. The winged female personification of Fame blowing a trumpet hovers behind him and to her right a gentleman flings out both his arms as if in admiration. Another man, with his back to the viewer and a tricorne hat under his left arm, is seated in the foregorund gesturing as if to introduce Garrick to the audience seated in two rows on the left. A version exists in whiich the audience members are identified as members of the Drury Lane Theatre Company.

The original painting purports to depict a real occasion, in the Spring of 1764 when Garrick performed extracts from the dagger-scene in Macbeth to the Duke of Parma and guests including Earl Spencer and the Duke of York. There is no evidence that the artist Longhi was present and the painting was probably commissioned after the event by an English member of the audience who then brought it back to England with him.

When this print was published the subject was given as "Garrick in the Green Room" and the composition described in a pamphlet by George Daniel: Garrick in the Green Room! a Biographical and Critical Analysis of a Picture, painted by William Hogarth, and engraved by William Ward. (London: James Webb Southgate, 22, Fleet Street. 1829); the frontispiece was a reduced copy of the print, with a key. Austin Dobson in his book William Hogarth (1902, p.179) stated that the painting had belonged to the collector Samuel Addington and was sold in 1886 for £84. The atrribution to Hogarth was accepted until 1933 when a related drawing inscribed "Longhi" was identified in the Correr Museum, Venice.

This note is drawn from the information provided on the British Museum collections website and the entry in R. Broadley, Every Look Speaks: Portraits of David Garrick, exhibition catalogue, Holburne Museum of Art, Bath, 2003.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Gift from Mr. Southgate (probably the auctioneer), May 1833. In SM Archive P.C.II.S.16 is a copy of the acknowledgement of the gift sent by Soane to Southgate dated 24 May 1833 in which 'Sir John Soane ...returns Mr Southgate his best thanks - he begs to say that he highly values the Engraving as a work of art and .... assures Mr Southgate that it will be preserved with the utmost care, not only for his own gratification but for that of lovers of Art in general' [he sends with this a copy of his 1832 edition of the Description as a gift]. This gift is received just a month after the passing of the Soane Museum Act of Parliament and may have been prompted by it.


R. Broadley, cat. no 27, in Every Look Speaks: Portraits of David Garrick, exhibition catalogue, Holburne Museum of Art, Bath, 2003

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk