“ Possibly the Most Original Actor
of the Eighteenth Century ”
Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). Mr Garrick in the Character of Richard the Third. Here “The tent scene, Act V, Scene 3, which was especially praised” – the king raising terrified from his dream in the tent. To the left his own camp and that of Richmond’s “so that a battle is inescapable”. Steel engraving. About 1840. Inscribed: Garrick in der Rolle Richard des Dritten. / Shakespear (sic!) Act 5, Scene 7 (sic!, recte 3), otherwise as above. 5⅝ × 6⅝ in (14.3 × 16.9 cm).
In the same direction as Hogarth’s painting of c. 1745 (H. Cat. Tate Gallery 1971/72, 123 with ills.). – Below trimmed within the last line of text.
“ This picture was caused by the first appearance of the British Roscius in the rôle of Richard IIIrd at the theatre of Goodman’sfield (Lincoln’s Inn Fields) in the year 1741 by which that famous actor forced his way in a way that from the first moment on he found the most complete acknowledgement by the nation … Garrick has reshaped the English stage, and still exercises his efficacy through the tradition as his method to impersonate Shakespeare’s characters was handed down to actors from generation to generation … The whole body (here), from top to toe, is frantically moved by the terror of the other world … ”
(Lichtenberg). 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 — ”
And “The design follows Le Brun’s ‘Tent of Darius’”, so Lawrence Gowing in the catalogue of the Tate Gallery. Also drawing the attention to the fact that the proceeds of 200 £ received for the painting “paid by Mr Duncombe, who commissioned the picture, remained a matter of pride to the painter”. Support for this not least that charming letter of the master of Oct. 21, 1746, on the “Proportions of Garrick and Quin” in which he explains this nice sum with the words
“ … sold … on account of its Likeness which was the reason it was call’d Mr Garrick … & not any body else ” .
David Garrick’s (Heresford 1716 – near London 1779) beginning dates from just that year, first in Ipswich, then already see above. 1746 he went on to Covent Garden, 1747 he bought the Drury Lane together with Lacy where he endeavoured “to revive especially the taste for Shakespeare’s works” (Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed.). 1776 he withdrew. He was buried in Westminster Abbey at the foot of Shakespeare’s memorial. He himself wrote 27 comedies (see on this “The Farmer’s Return”). And – as the great actor’s reverence for the brother in mind – even Hogarth’s epitaph:
“ Farewell, great Painter of Mankind! / Who reach’d the noblest point of Art, / Whose pictured Morals charm the Mind, / And through the Eye correct the Heart.
“ If genius fire thee, Reader, stay; / If Nature touch thee, drop a tear; / If neither move thee, turn away, / For Hogarth’s honour’d dust lies here. ”
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(Frau R. R., 24. Januar 2014)