George Cruikshank (British, London 1792–1878 London)
Published by M. [or W. N.] Jones (London)
William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Sarah Siddons (British, Brecon, Wales 1755–1831 London)
John Philip Kemble (British, Prescot, Lancashire 1757–1823 Lausanne)
Richard Brinsley Sheridan (Irish, Dublin 1751–1816 London)
Baron Ferdinand de Geramb (French, 1772–1848)
January 1, 1812
sheet: 7 13/16 x 20 5/16 in. (19.8 x 51.6 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1917
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.
From The Scourge, or Montly Expositor, part 13
Signature: in plate: "G. Cruikshank fec-t"
Inscription: in plate: "Published January 1st by M Jones No. 5 Newgate Street"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine," September 13, 2011–March 4, 2012.
Cohn no. 732, pt. 13, p. 207; British Museum Satires 11935; Reid 145
Nadine Orenstein, Constance C. McPhee Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine Exh. cat.: September 13, 2011 - March 4, 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven and London, 2011, Entry by Constance McPhee, cat. no. 57, pp. 78-79, ill.