“ A Horse , A Horse
The Great Garrick as Richard III
My Kingdom for a Horse ”
Shakespeare – Garrick – Dance, Nathaniel (London 1735 – Carnborough House/Winchester 1811). (Mr. Garrick in Richard the Third.) In ermine coat along with Order of the Garter and further one as well as spurs after the loss of his horse in the lost Battle of Bosworth (22 August 1485) against the Earl of Richmond, later King Henry VII. The sword in the raised right at the moment of his immortalized words
“ A horse , a horse , my kingdom for a horse ”.
Laterally left Richmond’s cavalcade, driving Richard’s infantry. Set further back manor house. Mezzotint by John Dixon (Dublin about 1740 – London 1811). Inscribed: within the subject below right J. Dixon Fecit, and in the white inscription edge below N.Dance pinxt (far left) / Dance pinxt (5 cm from platemark) / Publishd according to Act of Parliamont (sic!) April 28 1772 by John Boydell Engraver Cheapside London / J Dixon Fecit, additionally see below. 25 × 15¾ in (63.4 × 40 cm).
Smith 15.I (of II, but see below); Nagler III (1836, but ditto 1913 also Thieme-Becker VIII, 340 f.), 258 f. (Dance’s “main work is Richard III as after the lost battle he calls furiously for his horse”) and page 422 on Dixon (“made himself known especially by his engravings in mezzotint manner, in what he proved genius and taste … nothing but appreciable works, among which to be mentioned particularly: … Garrick’s portrait in the character of Richard III … There are impressions before the letter.”) resp.
Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon (AKL) XXIV (2000), 73: “1771 (Dance’s, subsequent Sir Dance-Holland)
dramatic rendering of
David Garrick as Richard III
in Stratford on Avon … yet increasingly he turns from the conversation pieces practiced in Rome to (as here, too) life-size , stately portraits.”
Dixon in turn – AKL XXVIII, 2001, 56 – “renders in his high-grade prints the designs truthfully and sensitively. Frequently he accentuates his mezzotints with other graphical techniques, too, i. a. dry-point.” Befriended with Garrick, he indeed dedicated various works to him, the last still 1779 after the pale Thomas Hudson, but unsurpassably Dance’s pattern
of the wonderful Garrick
in present immortal pose of just that moment
“ as he calls furiously for his horse after the lost battle ”
(Nagler). Yet defying Richard’s dramatic appearance as a “titanic portrait of a villain of surrealistic force” (Erwin Laaths, 1953) Garrick’s position of the mouth rather aims at a quieter My kingdom I would give if only I had a horse now.
And as Richard III & Romeo and Julia are “first masterpieces of the young” Shakespeare (Laaths), so Garrick, finally fulfilling his childhood dream in 1741,
“ instantly brought the house down as Richard III at London
… G. had his features and his organ of speech most admirably under control; the expression of any emotion was at his disposal, so that he was almost equally great in tragedy as in comedy, even though the former was considered his true sphere … 1776 (he) retired to his country house near London, where he died Jan. 20, 1779, bequeathing an estate of c. £ 140,000. His corpse was
entombed in Westminster Abbey
at the base of the memorial to Shakespeare ”
(Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., VI , 916 f.). And Schiller in The Ghost-Seer from 1787 :
“ What! … his convulsive fits; his swoon; the deplorable situation … were all these nothing more than the mimickry of an actor? I allow that a skilful performer may carry imitation to a very high pitch, but he certainly has no power over the organs of life. ” “ As for that, my friend, I have seen Richard the Third by Garrick — ”
“ Garrick has reshaped the English stage, and still now, by the tradition, exercises his efficacy as his method to render Shakespeare’s characters was handed down to the actors from generation to generation … ”
Here then now adequately to all the above the gigantic actor, born in Heresford 1716, at the gauge-bursting peak of the rôle of his life,
communicated in the picture of those who were about him ,
experienced him in the flesh .
So then Dixon’s just technically conditioned – only “50 or 60 … clean prints” the velvety mezzotint grants, so 1675 the expert von Sandrart –
rare main sheet
in marvelous early impression of vibrant chiaroscuro
before the title
and in such a manner generally corresponding with copy Ee,3.124 of the British Museum qualified as first state down to signatures & Boydell address scratched in dry-point, see above. Nevertheless a still earlier state may have remained unknown to/unnoticed by Smith (1883) & British Museum. For with present copy the Dance inscription placed far left is followed again by a cut pale Dance pinxt, supposedly without preceding N, the distance of which to the platemark being 5 cm. By this, however, approximately corresponding to the Dixon inscription ending on the right 7 cm from the platemark. – The actual sequence of states supposedly as follows:
- J. Dixon Fecit within the subject lower right, to which on the left a N Dance Pinxt might correspond with, see III, otherwise before the letter (Nagler), as for instance also the Dixon sheets Smith 13 & 14 (Before [any] inscription). – Here not provable.
- Dixon/Dance within the subject as I, in addition Dance pinxt / J Dixon Fecit in the white lower margin, set off from the platemark as above. – Here not provable.
- J. Dixon Fecit within the subject lower right, to which on the left a but hardly legible N Dance Pinxt seems to have corresponded with. In addition in the white lower margin N.Dance pinxt (far left) / Dance pinxt (5 cm from platemark) / Publishd according to Act of Parliamont (sic!) April 28 1772 by John Boydell Engraver Cheapside London / J Dixon Fecit. – Present copy , the lower edge still untreated.
- as III, but without the second, earlier Dance pinxt in the lower margin from III. – Copy Ee,3.124 of the British Museum as Smith 15.I.
- J. Dixon Fecit within the subject lower right & in the white lower margin: Dance pinxit / J Dixon Fecit, both each per platemark, and 2 lines centered: Mr. GARRICK in RICHARD the THIRD. / Publishd April 28th 1772 by John Boydell Engraver Cheapside London. – Copy Ee,3.123 of the British Museum as Smith 15.II.
Two-line typographic watermark along with oval secondary mark. – Margins 2-2.5 cm wide laterally and 0.7-1 cm above & below, as for the old mezzotints worth emphasizing, all the more with such a downright
imperial format .
Particularly the latter then also marginalizing the but insignificant agemarks. Expressly mentioned yet a blotchiness of 2⅜ × ¾-1⅛ in (6 × 2-3 cm) in the storm clouds at the edge top left. – Shortly ,
the horse call of world literature —
here as the visualized trouvaille assoluta !
Offer no. 15,859 / price on application
“ I hereby confirm safe receipt of the two dias you so kindly sent us … Thank you so much for your kind help and splendid service ”
(Mrs. M. K., September 16, 2003)