PAINTING THE THEATRE: GARRICK IN ACTION
PAINTING THE THEATRE: GARRICK IN ACTION

PAINTING THE THEATRE: GARRICK IN ACTION

This special display at The Bowes Museum will celebrate England's best-known 18th century actor, David Garrick (1717-1779), to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth.   

The Museum recently acquired two outstanding paintings by Johann Zoffany (1733-1810), commissioned by Garrick – deemed by many to be one of the greatest actors of all time – representing the thespian in action.

The Farmer’s Return and Venice Preserv’d were each painted in 1762 for Garrick’s house at The Adelphi, at that time one of London’s most fashionable developments. They portray the actor, who symbolises the high success of 18th-century theatre, acting in both tragedy and comedy, in two successful plays of the time.

Held in the same private collection since the death of Garrick’s widow in 1820 until their arrival at The Bowes Museum, the paintings will be celebrated for the first time.

Garrick’s wealth and friendship with Zoffany gave the artist the opportunity to fully develop a specific British genre, ‘painting the theatrical action’, created a few years earlier by Hogarth.  Zoffany made at least six paintings of Garrick in different plays, designed to be hung in the actor’s dining room in The Adelphi house. Garrick had copies ordered to be offered to friends, and the mezzotints made from these paintings had huge commercial success.

Fintan O'Toole, the biographer of Garrick's successor, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, wrote:

‘The relationship between the actors and the audience had been transformed. Audiences had been put in their place. And we're still in that place. On every occasion we stop talking when the lights go down, we're paying a kind of tribute to Garrick's legacy. . .’

Through paintings, engravings, contemporary mezzotints and theatrical paraphernalia, the display will show how artists depicted the ‘theatrical action’, and how these representations encouraged the emerging phenomenon of ‘celebrity’. It will also make possible a remarkable collaboration with The Georgian Theatre Royal in nearby Richmond (North Yorkshire), which is aimed at helping visitors understand and appreciate theatrical life in the 18th century while illustrating how Yorkshire was the first place for theatre entertainment after London. Built in 1788, it is the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form. 

Zoffany’s works appear in many prominent collections including the Tate, National Gallery and the Royal Collection as well as The Bowes Museum.

Painting the Theatre: Garrick in Action opens on 8 April 2017 and runs until 9 July 2017. It will be accompanied by a series of Gallery Talks throughout the run.

End

Notes to editors:

·         The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 

·         The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England.

·         The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.

·         The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 0191 301 8531,       

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Information about closing


19 March 2020

Unfortunately, due to the continuing development of the Coronavirus situation, The Bowes Museum is now closed until further notice. The health and wellbeing of both our customers and our staff is our priority.

Where events can be rescheduled we will endeavour to do so but please be assured that all ticket holders for cancelled events have options on refunds and can contact info@thebowesmuseum.org.uk, however by not requesting a refund you would be making an exceptionally generous and much appreciated charitable donation to The Bowes Museum during these unprecedented times.

Whilst the Museum is closed, we will be working on other ways of sharing our story and collection via our digital platforms. Stay posted for online videos, conversations and more.

We thank you for your patience and your continued support for The Bowes Museum during this unpredictable time. We hope to come back to you with a reopening date shortly, for now, please stay safe and help protect the vulnerable.

25 March 2020

It is with great sadness that The Bowes Museum has taken the decision to temporarily close all gates to the grounds following a spate of vandalism around the parkland.

Since the Museum closed on Wednesday 18 March the benches in the story area have been damaged, the totem pole pulled over and broken, there have been attempts to pull out outdoor trail markers and branches have been pulled down and plants uprooted.

The Museum is working with the police to find the perpetrators of these actions. PC Michael Banks of Durham Constabulary said "This is a shameful piece of criminal damage within the grounds of a historical location in Barnard Castle anyone with information please contact Durham Constabulary quoting reference number DHM23032020-0189"

The Director of The Bowes Museum, Adrian Jenkins, said: "It is a shame that the actions of a few will have an impact on many but this closure also ties in with the latest government advice to stay at home to help restrict the spread of coronavirus and the Museum is following in the footsteps of other organisations who have closed gated parks and gardens.

There are tips from our education officer on the Museum's social media platforms for keeping the kids, and yourselves, entertained while in isolation and we'll be updating the website regularly with new and exciting information about the collection.

In the meantime, please keep safe and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum and grounds when it reopens."

You can keep up to date with developments here or on our Facebook and Twitter.

We’ll be back…