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  • Place of origin:

    Staffordshire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glazed earthenware

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Almaza Gertrude Morton

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Earthenware flatbacks and figurines for mantelpiece decoration were first produced in Staffordshire in the late 1830s. The earliest datable figures appear to be of Queen Victoria, and although a few figures were made after her death in 1901, few appear to have been produced after 1905. During their heyday however they were produced in vast numbers, usually modelled after prints. They represented a wide variety of subjects but those of actors and actresses were especially popular. This flatback represents David Garrick as Richard III in the famous tent scene before the Battle of Bosworth, haunted by the ghosts of those he had murdered. It was modelled after a painting of 1745 by William Hogarth which was later reproduced in engravings and in other versions of the same flatback. In the painting his hand is raised in a gesture of horror and not the rather benign royal wave it appears to be in the flatback.

David Garrick (1717-1779) was recognised during his lifetime as one of the greatest actors ever in both comedy and tragedy. He was born in Hereford, came to London in 1737 to work as a wine merchant but made his London debut as an actor at Goodman's Fields as Richard III in 1741. He managed the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 1747 until 1776 and was depicted in many of his most famous roles during his lifetime, especially in paintings by Johann Zoffany (1733-1810). Richard III was a part with which he was especially associated, both from his London debut and his first appearance at Drury Lane Theatre on 11 May 1742 in the role.

Physical description

Glazed earthenware flatback figure of David Garrick as Richard III seated in a white tent, the very top part of which is missing, his right arm raised, his left hand resting on the bench on which he is sitting. His coat is painted green with a textured 'ermine' border and there are gilt details on the tent and on his costume. His hair, moustache and goatee beard are painted light brown. Strips of green baize have been glued to the perimeter of the base by a previous owner.

Place of Origin

Staffordshire (made)


ca. 1840 (made)


Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Glazed earthenware


Height: 23.3 cm, Width: 17 cm of base, Depth: 6.9 cm of base

Object history note

Richard III was the subject of one of Shakespeare's historical plays in which Richard is sent to the Tower by Bolingbroke. David Garrick first played the role at Goodman's Fields in October 1741 but returned to the part several times during his career. The source of this figure is an engraving made after a painting by Hogarth entitled 'Nightmare Scene' of Garrick in the role. This figure was issued in three sizes, the largest of which featured the words 'Richard the Third' on the base.

Descriptive line

Glazed earthenware figure of David Garrick (1717-1779) as Richard III in Shakespeare's tragedy Richard III which he first played at Goodman's Fields, 19 October 1741. Staffordshire, c.1840.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria Staffordshire Figures 1835-1875 by A & N Harding, 1998. p.297, fig.1079

Production Note

The flatback was modelled after the 1745 oil painting by William Hogarth of Richard III in his tent before the Battle of Bosworth.


Earthenware; Glaze


Entertainment & Leisure; Figures & Decorative ceramics


Theatre and Performance Collection

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