The Rehearsal or the Baron and the Elephant

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Cruikshank was nineteen when he etched this pseudo-oriental procession parodying recent spectacles on the London stage. A month before, Covent Garden’s annual Christmas pantomime had featured a live elephant and the artist holds actor-manager John Kemble responsible for sacrificing traditional drama to profit. Perched on the offending pachyderm, Kemble catches coins while discarding a cloak that symbolizes his reputation as a tragic actor. The elephant advertises The Murder of Shakespeare and shakes a figure symbolizing old-fashioned Comedy with his trunk. The action played out before the elephant parodies an amateur performance by Robert Coates at the Haymarket. Coates used the occasion to insult prominent audience member, the Baron de Geramb who is shown perched on the elephant’s trunk, while Coates rides a golden cockerel.

The Rehearsal or the Baron and the Elephant, George Cruikshank (British, London 1792–1878 London), Hand-colored etching

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