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Lookup NU author(s): Dr James Harriman-Smith
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William Hogarth’s portrait of Eva and David Garrick appears to celebrate its subjects’ powers of discernment and cultural prominence. On the desk lie the freshly-penned opening lines of the prologue to Samuel Foote’s Taste. In the shadows a volume of Shakespeare reminds us of the role that David played in creating our national poet, while the pose of Eva draws on a long iconographical tradition of the genius-inspiring muse. Yet Garrick refused to purchase this apparently laudatory work. This chapter will explore some potential reasons for this decision, while enriching our understanding of both the portrait and the figures it depicts. By celebrating the taste of the Garricks, Hogarth worked on dangerous ground. As a soldier’s son and former wine-merchant, David had had to work hard to become a gentleman actor: such a proclamation of his status may well have risked exposing its fragility. After all, it is not hard to read this portrait critically. Is Eva here not just a muse but a guarantor of the thespian’s social graces? And is her careful pose a reminder of her own time as a dancer, albeit under the protection of noble patronage? Such questions point to the broader importance of Hogarth’s portrait: it encourages us to remember that David Garrick was not a solitary genius, but rather part of a double-act, and one which needed all the resources of both partners to maintain its prominence.
Author(s): Harriman-Smith J
Editor(s): Burden M; Thorp J
Series Editor(s): Blazekovic Z
Publication type: Book Chapter
Publication status: Published
Book Title: With a Grace Not to be Captured: Representing the Georgian Theatrical Dancer, 1760-1830
Print publication date: 03/03/2021
Acceptance date: 10/04/2018
Series Title: Music and Visual Cultures
Publisher: Brepols Publishers
Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item