|after Jefferyes Hamett O'Neale
|Image 165 x 96 mm, Plate 185 x 116 mm, Sheet 207 x 123 mm
A satyrical etching from The Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine, depicting the triumph of the actor David Garrick over his mentor-turned-rival Charles Macklin. Garrick is held aloft by the muses of comic and tragic theatre, while Macklin, bearded and clutching a dagger, lies prostrate before them. A pair of devils prepare to drag him into the waiting inferno of Hell below. Macklin's performance as Shylock had electrified audiences when the Drury Lane performance of The Merchant of Venice opened in 1741, returning the character to his more authentically-Shakespearean mode as a scheming villain, rather than the clownish Shylock that had been popularised by Granville's 'The Jew of Venice.' In addition, Macklin's interest in historical models for both his performance and costuming placed a new emphasis on theatrical realism, resulting in a performance that so enervated George II that following the opening performance he allegedly struggled to sleep. Macklin's career was marred by creative disputes though, including an actor's strike which drove an irreparable wedge in the friendship between him and Garrick. Macklin's success as Shylock was not repeated when he took on the role of Macbeth, leading to near-universal criticism from audiences. The composition of Garrick and the Muses in this print is often described as following the painting by Reynolds, but the similarity is superficial at best.
Jefferyes Hamett O'Neale (c.1719-1797) was a British painter, known principally as a porcelain artist, though he also painted miniatures and engraved satirical plates and prints for pattern books.
BM Satires 5203
Condition: Foxing to margins. Minor creasing to margins and corners of sheet. Pencil annotation 'Macklin' in old hand to bottom margin.