David Garrick as Richard III

William Hogarth, 1745 about

WAG 634

About this object

David Garrick (1717 - 1779) was the greatest British actor of the mid 18th century. He became famous from 1743 after his outstanding performance as Shakespeare's Richard III. He is shown here in the famous tent scene before the Battle of Bosworth, haunted by the ghosts of all those he had murdered.

Garrick's body is contorted into a 'serpentine' line - a stretched 'S' shape that Hogarth considered distinctly beautiful. He later made this shape the basis of his theoretical treatise 'The Analysis of Beauty' published in 1753.

This first major Shakespearian picture is not just a portrait but also a grand history painting in which Hogarth emphasises England's importance. He believed that an incident from English rather than ancient history could be used to teach a moral lesson.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    William Hogarth (British: English, born:10 November 1697, died:26 October 1764)
  • Date
    1745 about
  • Materials
    Oil; Canvas
  • Measurements
    canvas/support: 190.5 cm x 250.8 cm
  • Physical description
    A portrait of a man in a red tent wearing royal robes. Inside the tent on the right is a crucifixion and a crown. There is armour on the ground in the left foreground and more tents in the distance on the left.
  • Related people
    William Hogarth (Artist/maker)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 634
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery with the assistance of the Art Fund in 1956
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 05
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections
Object view = Fine Art
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