David Garrick (1716 - 1779) between Tragedy and Comedy
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Large rectangular oil painting in landscape orientation, with three figures, in the centre a man, David Garrick, accompanied by two women, one on either side, one personifying Comedy, the other Tragedy. On the left, Comedy, dressed in a low-cut pink dress, pulls Garrick's clothes. On the right, Tragedy, dressed in blue classical robes with a veil, takes Garrick's left wrist and points up. Garrick looks at Tragedy, but his body turns to Comedy. The three figures are portrayed in an exterior setting with trees in the background.
The painting is supported on an early 20th century stretcher with four openings, held within an elaborate carved and gilded wooden frame, with trophies decorating the top, and both sides.
Dimensions (mm) / weight (mg)
1830 x 1476
Signature & date
not signed or dated
on verso, upper centre to upper right on upper stretcher, chalk
[Thos Agnew & Sons label, Old Bond Street London]
on verso, upper centre on upper stretcher
on verso, upper left on stretcher, label
on verso, on stretcher
James Bourlet & Sons Ltd
17-18 Nassau Street
on verso, on stretcher
- Bought from the artist by George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax (b.1716, d.1771); sold at 2nd Earl of Halifax sale, Christie's, London, 20 April 1782, lot no. 75; bought at Earl of Halifax sale by John-Julius Angerstein (b.1732, d.1823); by descent in the Angerstein family, probably to his grandson William Angerstein (b.1811, d.1897); bought by Wertheimer from the Angerstein family after 1872; bought from Wertheimer by Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild (b.1840, d.1915), for Tring Park, 11 June 1885; then to a Rothschild Family Trust.
- Society of Artists, London, 1762, no. 88, as 'Mr Garrick, between the two muses of tragedy and comedy'
- British Institute, London, 1813, no. 32,
- British Institute, London, 1843, no. 26
- British Institute, London, 1851, no. 70
- 'Second special exhibition of National Portraits', South Kensington Museum, London, 1867, no. 594
- Royal Academy, London, 1872, no. 78
- 'Sir Joshua Reynolds's Loan Exhibition', 45 Park Lane, London, 1937, no. 88
- 'The First Hundred Years of the Royal Academy 1769-1868', Royal Academy, London, 1951, no. 18
- 'Reynolds', Grand Palais, Paris, 1985, no. 21
- 'Reynolds, Royal Academy, London, 1986, no. 42
- 'Every look speaks: Portraits of David Garrick', Holburne Museum, Bath,16 September - December 2003
- 'Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity', Tate Britain, London, 26 May - 25 September 2005
- 'Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Acquisition of Genius: An international artist, a forgotten local hero', Plymouth City Art Museum, 21 November 2009 - 20 February 2010
- Waddesdon (Rothschild Family)
- On loan since 1995
- E. Malone; The works of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 3 vols; London; Cadell & Davies; 1798; vol. 1, p. lxii, clxxii.
- Edward Edwards, Horace Walpole; Anecdotes of painters who have resided or been born in England; London; Leigh and Sotheby; 1808; p. 188.
- James Northcote; The Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 2 vols; London; Henry Colburn Publishers; 1819; vol. 1, pp. 105, 297.
- Alan Cunningham; The lives of the most eminent British painters, sculptors, and architects; 6 vols; London; John Murray; 1829-1833; vol. 1, p. 260.
- George Hamilton; The English School; 4 vols; London; Charles Tilt; 1831-1832; vol. 1, n.p.
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- Frederick Wiley Hilles; Horace Walpole and the knight of the brush; Warren Hunting Smith, Horace Walpole, Writer, Politician, and Connoisseur. Essays on the 250th Anniversary of Walpole's Birth, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1967; 141-166; pp. 146-147.
- Ellis Waterhouse; Reynolds; London; Phaidon Press; 1973; pp. 21-22.
- Werner Busch, Hogarths and Reynolds: Porträts des Schauspielers Garrick, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 42, 1984, 82-89; pp. 82-99.
- David Mannings, Reynolds, Garrick and the Choice of Hercules, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 17, 1984, 259-83; pp. 259-283.
- Ann Uhry Abrams; The valiant hero: Benjamin West and grand-style history painting; Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian Institution; 1985; p. 101, ill.
- Nicholas Penny; Reynolds; Grand Palais, Paris, 9 October - 16 December 1985; Royal Academy of Arts, London, 16 January - 31 March 1986; London; Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1985; no. 42, pp. 205-207.
- Edgar Wind, Jaynie Anderson; Hume and the heroic portrait: studies in eighteenth-century imagery; Oxford; The Clarendon Press; 1986; pp. 35-39.
- Martin Postle, Reynolds, Shaftesbury, Van Dyck and Dobson: Sources for Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy, Apollo, 132, 1990, 306-11; pp. 306-311, fig. II.
- Bettina Baumgärtel; Angelika Kauffmann (1741-1807): Bedingungen weiblicher Kreativität in der Malerei des 18. Jahrhunderts; Weinheim; Beltz; 1990; pp. 171-174, fig. 35.
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- Richard Wendorf; Sir Joshua Reynolds: The painter in society; New Haven; Harvard University Press; 1998; pp. 114, 148-151, 156; fig. 4.
- Maria Ines Aliverti; La Naissance de L'Acteur Moderne; Paris; Éditions Gallimard; 1998; p. 137, fig. 29.
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- Michael Rosenthal, Martin Myrone; Gainsborough; London; Tate Publishing; 2002; p. 100, fig. 37.
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- Desmond Shawe-Taylor; Every Look Speaks; Portraits of David Garrick; Bath; Holburne Museum of Art; 2003; p. 44, fig 11.
- Robyn Asleson; Notorious Muse: The Actress in British Art and Culture 1776-1812; London; Yale University Press; 2003; p. 204, fig. 61.
- Robert Clark; John Goto: Capital Arcade and High Summer; John Goto, John Goto: Ukadia, Nottingham, Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham, 6 September - 19 October 2003, Djanogly Art Gallery, 2003; p. 37.
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- Jeffrey Kahan; Bettymania and the Birth of Celebrity Culture; Pennsylvania; Lehigh University Press; 2010; p. 19, fig. 2.
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- Terry Robinson, 'Life is a tragicomedy': Maria Edgeworth's Belinda and the Staging of the Realist Novel, Nineteenth-Century Literature, 67, September 2012, 139-176; p. 153, fig. 2.
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- David Garrick, Sitter
Person as Subject
- Allegory & Personifications/Comedy & Tragedy
- Allegory & Personifications/Virtue
- Allegory & Personifications/Vices
- Mythology/Gods & Goddesses/Hercules
- Nature, Landscape & The Elements/Countryside
- Nature, Landscape & The Elements/Trees & Plants
- Objects/Armour & Weaponry/Dagger
- Objects/Theatrical Items/Mask
- Objects/Clothing & Personal Effects/Veil