A comic dance

One of the highlights in the career of the actor and pantomimist Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) was his performance in Harlequin and Mother Goose, or, The Golden Egg. The DNB notices how ‘fashionable and influential people, including Byron and Lord Eldon, flocked from all over London to see it’ at Covent Garden in 1806. According to his annotations on the print below, Douce himself was one of them:

Anonymous, The Comic Dance by Mess.rs Bologna & Grimaldi, c. 1806, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Anonymous, The Comic Dance by Mess.rs Bologna & Grimaldi, c. 1806, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Douce thus enthused over the pantomime on the verso:

This truly comical dance was performed in a Pantomime called Harlequin Mother Shipton, or the Golden Egg. It was the very best grotesque dance I ever saw, & was accompanied by an excellent & wonderfully droll Irish tune.

He enjoyed it so much that he also acquired this depiction of Grimaldi in character that captures the ‘almost demonic quality’ of the actor’s performance and his use of household objects as props:

W. O'Keefe, Grimaldi with the Broom & Tin Kettle in Mother Goose, c. 1806, hand-coloured etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

W. O’Keefe, Grimaldi with the Broom & Tin Kettle in Mother Goose, c. 1806, hand-coloured etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

 

This entry was posted in Clowns, Colour, Entertainment, Fools, London, Music, Portraits, Prints, Theatre. Bookmark the permalink.

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