David Garrick as Richard III

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David Garrick as Richard III

Title: David Garrick as Richard III
Date: about 1745
Artist: William Hogarth
Date of birth:
Nationality: British: English
Date of death:
Materials: Oil; Canvas
Information: 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.
Accession no: WAG 634
Credit line: Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery with the assistance of the Art Fund in 1956
Location: Item not currently on display