William Hogarth – Portrait Of Garrick As Richard III

The next illustration we have to consider is the Portrait of Garrick as Richard III., painted – in 1746. Hogarth several times painted the famous actor, for whom he had unstinted admiration ; one picture, Garrick in the Green Room, shows him as the central figure in a large portrait group. In the work illustrated the painter has succeeded in producing a boldly-drawn and impressive figure ; but it is not a good portrait of David Garrick; the likeness is imperfect and the anatomy far too large. Nevertheless, the picture is meritorious, if only for its conception and setting of the Shakespearean tableau.

The scene represented is taken from Act V., Sc. 3, where the King, starting from his dream of accusing ghosts, cries wildly :

” Give me another horse, bind up my wounds, Have mercy, Jesu ! Soft ; I did but dream. O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me ! ”

Richard, his face expressing the horror of the recollection, starts from his couch. His left hand grasps a dagger ; his right is raised as if in deprecation of the unseen foes. The tent is lit by a lamp which burns before a pictured crucifix. The royal Crown rests near his pillow ; the royal suit of armour is disposed with some negligé upon the floor. The King is elaborately dressed, even to his ruff and ermined robe. This, with the curtains of the tent and the fallen coverings, gives the picture an air of studied effect as to drapery, altogether to its disadvantage. At Richard’s feet lies the warning message to the Duke of Norfolk —-

Jockey of Norfolk, be not too bold, For Dickon My master is bought and sold —-

which Hogarth here introduces by a stroke of licence, for the King was not acquainted with the message at this time. Beyond the tent is a view of the sleeping camp. Three sentries converse round a fire, and a fourth keeps watch in the farther distance.

Hogarth was paid L200 for this picture, a princely sum for a portrait in those days, and larger than any previous amount similarly earned by an English artist. The purchaser was Mr. Duncombe, of Duncombe Park, Yorkshire, whose descendant, the Earl of Feversham, is its present owner.

The picture of the Lord Mayor’s Procession forms the last plate of Industry and Idleness, the series of engravings, executed in 1747, which traces the careers of the two apprentices. Hogarth’s original pen-and-ink drawings for this series are now in the Print Room of the British Museum.

In this picture we see virtue in the very lap of extraneous reward. Master Francis Good-child has followed studiously the path of rectitude, and it leads him at length to—the Mansion House. It is indeed a proud moment for the one-time Spitalfields weaver ; for do not the Royal Pair themselves glance approvingly at his progress from a balcony at the corner of Cheapside, while the citizens rend the air with cheers of welcome and delight ! The windows are full of spectators ; the roofs, also, offer vantage-ground to the more venturesome. The picture is crammed with amusing detail, and with one less happy incident, where a “stand” belies its name and throws two women to the ground—though even this seems to afford mirth to the dwarfish proprietor. The audience in the right-hand staging, and the oddly-assorted city militia, are drawn in Hogarth’s most characteristic vein. One of the latter wears his sword in such a manner as, in Ireland’s phrase, “to give the idea of a bluebottle impaled on a pin.” Close by a boy sells “a full, true, and particular account of the ghost of Thomas Idle, which appeared to the Lord Mayor.” On the scaffolding at the opposite side a too-ardent swain is threatened with a scratching from his lady-love.

A blind man protecting his hat, and a drunken trooper, are immediately below. But the crowning glory of the scene centres in the Lord Mayor himself, although it is his sword-bearer who forms the most conspicuous character in the picture. Four footmen add to the weight of the unwieldy coach, which is closely escorted by effusive butchers, armed with bones and cleavers.

None of Hogarth’s pictures possesses more animation than this one, which, although containing a multitude of figures, and filled with incident in every part, is so well thought out that there is no sense of overcrowding. A particularly happy effect is produced by the street in perspective, which seems to add immensely to the area depicted.