Mr and Mrs Garrick, by William Hogarth, 1757
52¼ x 41. From Hogarth the Painter, by E.Einberg.
"As a painter [Hogarth] had but slender merit". Horace Walpole
Two fingers to you, Horace.

This painting was sold at an auction held by Christie's on June 23rd, 1823. The catalogue description reads: "Hogarth; Portrait of Mr. Garrick seated at his Writing-table, composing his Prologue to Taste, and of Mrs. Garrick behind, interrupting him in his reverie, painted with great truth and spirit. A lovely picture, great sweetness both in Garrick's expression & that of his wife, who is such a fair beauty." The picture was sold for £74-11-0, and is now in the Royal Collection. (Getty Provenance Database).

Nichols, in Biographical Anecdotes of William Hogarth, 1782, opines (p.11) that "The whole-length of Mr Garrick sitting at a table, with his wife behind him taking the pen out of his hand, confers no honour on the painter or the persons represented." A weird remark, followed by yet weirder.

"To make V", as it was called, was a "derisive" gesture.

Elizabeth Einberg's catalogue note comments that Garrick, the greatest actor of his age, was a lifelong friend of Hogarth, and that he is shown here, "composing his prologue to Samuel Foote's Taste, a comedy that pilloried the ignorant pretensions of would-be art connoisseurs, a subject dear to Hogarth's heart." This remark stimulated a closer look at both the prologue and the play. Not to mention Garrick's left-handed gesture. Anachronistic? Not exactly: the gesture had been known since 1532.

It is of particular interest that at the same sale of David Garrick's collection, three paintings by Monamy, a calm, a sunset, and a fresh breeze, were also auctioned. They fetched modest prices, totalling five guineas, but they were the only seapieces. Other English artists represented were Hayman (3 pictures), Marlow (3), Wootton (1), Lambert (1) and Morland (1). The theatrical interest in the collection is strongly in evidence: Morland's painting was a portrait of Peg Woffington; Hayman and Lambert had both worked in the theatre. It seems possible that Monamy had also produced scene-paintings. There were three paintings by de Loutherbourg, though none of them were seascapes.

Here is The Prologue to Taste, 1753, which was "Written by Mr GARRICK, And spoken by him in the Character of an Auctioneer":

Not exactly a verse masterpiece, but the message of both play and prologue is plain enough. Auctioneers, and other dealers in antiquities, are presented as master charlatans. Their success depends on the pretensions and ignorance of their customers, Lord Dupe and Lady Pentweazel. English artists are reduced to penury, but make a living manufacturing Roman fakes, as illustrated in the engraved frontispiece. The customers are thus supporting English craftsmanship, without knowing it.

At Christmas, 1759, David Garrick wrote Heart of Oak, with music by Dr William Boyce. In 1768 the Americans John Dickinson and Arthur Lee re-wrote some of the words, adding the second stanza given below. American libertarians at this date were still loyal to Britannia's glory and wealth.

Come cheer up, my lads,
'Tis to glory we steer,
To add something more
To this wonderful year,
To honour we call you,
Not press you like slaves,
For who are so free
As the sons of the waves?

Heart of oak are our ships,
Jolly tars are our men,
We always are ready,
Steady, boys, steady,
We'll fight and we'll conquer
Again and again.
Our worthy forefathers,
Let's give them a cheer,
To climates unknown,
Did courageously steer.
Through oceans and deserts,
For freedom they came,
And dying, bequeathed us
Their freedom and fame.

Garrick's lines owe more than something to John Gay's Polly, Act II, Scene ii, 1729:

Culverin.Cheer up my lads, let us push on the fray,
For battles, like women, are lost by delay.
Let us seize victory while in our power;
Alike war and love have their critical hour.
Our hearts bold and steady should always be ready,
So, think war a widow, a kingdom the dower.


Garrick's authorship of Heart of Oak had me puzzled for quite some time. The puzzle was answered by Gwynn's Huguenot Heritage, wherein is related that Garrick's grandfather, also named David, escaped persecution in France by way of Brittany and Guernsey. Not only that, but soon after his escape he became a part-owner in two privateers named The Protestant Cause, and a third, called the Revenge. Pp 156 & 186.

David Garrick as Richard III by William Hogarth 1745
"As a painter he [Hogarth] had but slender merit". H.Walpole

Garrick's 20th century direct theatrical descendant was Laurence Olivier, who shared other traits with the 18th century's greatest actor. Olivier was also of Huguenot descent. The Reverend Jourdain Olivier, said to be an ancestral kinsman, was chaplain to William of Orange. In The Observer, May 6, 2001, a reviewer named Peter Conrad noted that "The Olivier who rallied his troops at Agincourt in the name of England and St George came from a Huguenot family." The positionings run parallel. Olivier also delivered a more than notable Richard III: and there even seems to be some physical resemblance. Note the crucifix in Hogarth's picture: little in his oeuvre is without significance.

1759 --- the wonderful year
21/2 Vestal 32 took Bellone 32
4/4 Achilles 50 took Comte de St Florentine 60 gun privateer
1/5 Capture of Guadeloupe
18/5 Thames 32 and Venus 36 took Arethuse 36
June - September: Expedition to and capture of Quebec. Vice-Admiral Philip Durell headed the advance squadron, followed by Sir Charles Saunders. Death of General Wolfe, 13th Sep..
13/8 Crescent 26 took Berkeley 20
18/8 Boscawen defeated de la Clue off Lagos
2/9 Pocock's action with d'Aché off Pondicherry
20/11 Hawke defeated de Conflans in Quiberon Bay

In British naval history 1759 is known as the Year of Victories. "The echoes of the bells that rang for victory in 1759 have only recently died away ..... victory was achieved ..... because of ..... William Pitt ..... and the exercise of British sea-power". Ludovic Kennedy, Introduction to The Seven Years War, 1973, by Rupert Furneaux.

Mr Walker: Archetypal Connoisseur
timeline 1: 1652-1698       timeline 2: 1697-1750       timeline 3: 1749-1755
introduction       background
article 1981       article 1983
patronage & painting
monamy website index


© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2006, 2016
all rights reserved