CORBUTT, Chas. (pseudonym R. PURCELL) after Sir Joshua REYNOLDS
Strive not Tragedy nor Comedy to Engross a Garrick, who to your Noblest Characters does Equal Honour.
London: Published by R. H. Laurie; 53 Fleet Street, and Bowles & Carver, c. 1761. Mezzotint. New state, ii/ii with the publication line altered. Inscription reads as follows: " J. Reynolds pinx.**Cha, Corbutt fecit./ Strive not TRAGEDY nor COMEDY to Engross a GARRICK, who to your NOBLEST CHARACTER does EQUAL HONOUR./ Reddere Personae scit convenientia cuique./ Published by R.H.LAURIE; 53 Fleet Street, and ** BOWLES & CARVER, St. Pauls Church Yard London, Price 6s.". In good condition apart from a small section of paper loss in the upper margin not extending into the image, and two small skillfully mended tears on the bottom margin. Images size: 13 1/8 x 16 inches. Sheet size: 14 15/16 x 17 1/18 inches. Plate mark: 14 x 16 1/8 inches.
One of the most famous portraits of the actor David Garrick by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
David Garrick (1717-1779) was perhaps the most influential actor in the English theater. He successfully took on all aspects of theatrical production, including actor, manager, playwright, publicist and theatre advocate. He displayed an amazing range by convincingly playing parts in every genre from comedy to tragedy, history to farce. From 1747 until his retirement in 1776, he was the manager of Drury Lane, where he initiated many improvements: he introduced concealed stage lighting, removed spectators from the stage, and cultivated a naturalistic style of acting. Garrick was acutely conscious of the value of pictures as advertisements. He sat for every painter of note, many of whom are now little more than names. He was painted in oils and in watercolours, drawn in pencil and in pastels, modelled in wax and in terracotta; his likeness even appeared on medals, Wedgewood china, and playing-cards. This portrait by his friend Reynolds demonstrates in a mildly humorous way the actor's talents and character; posed between Tragedy and Comedy Garrick is depicted the master of both. Garrick's broad smile, and Tragedy's melodramatic stance, note the dagger at her waist, favor Comedy. Reynolds' painting was a huge public success and inspired many prints and paintings, pirated prints of the image even made their way to the streets of Paris. The popularity of this image is a testimony to Garrick's fame and to Reynolds' talent. (University of Florida website, Penny)
An interesting derivative of this scene is Shakespeare Nursed by Tragedy and Comedy , a beautiful stipple engraving based on a painting by Romney.
Penny, Reynolds 42; Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits 31, this state not recorded; Russell, English Mezzotint Portraits, and their States 31, this state not recorded; Hamilton, Catalogue Raisonné of the Engraved Works of Sir Joshua Renolds p.29; Lennox-Boyd, Theatre: the Age of Garrick p.108; O'Donoghue, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits... in the British Museum 52.