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  • Place of origin:

    Liverpool (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1775 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sadler, John, born 1720 - died 1789 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glazed earthenware

  • Credit Line:

    Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This tile showing David Garrick (1717-1779) as Sir John Brute in The Provok'd Wife by Sir John Vanburgh is one of a series of late 18th-century tiles of actors and actresses produced in Liverpool by John Sadler (1720-1789). Trained as a printer, Sadler experimented with transfer-printing on white glazed delftware tiles, transferring images from engraved copper plates using enamel colours fixed in low-temperature firing.

Actors and actresses could become big stars in the18th century, when theatres, concert halls and pleasure gardens were the major forms of public entertainment. Engravers regularly produced images of paintings of the most popular performers, so the ability to reproduce engravings on ceramics was a lucrative development. Since the engravings were transfer-printed, the original images appear on the tiles in reverse.

Garrick 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 and made his London debut as a performer 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) who painted him as Sir John Brute. Garrick first played the role at Drury Lane in 1744; it became one of his most popular parts which he often played there over the next thirty years.

Physical description

Square glazed cream earthenware tile, transfer-printed with a decorative border of trellis work, and symbolic theatrical objects on the right and left sides including a flaming torch, comedy and tragedy mask, and a lyre. There is a central image of David Garrick as Sir John Brute, walking to his right, wearing knee-length breeches, a waistcoat and a cutaway jacket, his right arm bent up tp his chest at shoulder level, his left arm straight down by his side. In a ribbon ground above his head is the name: 'MR GARRICK', and below: 'in the character of SIR JOHN BRUTE'. Decoration in underglaze blue-black colour.

Place of Origin

Liverpool (made)


ca.1775 (made)


Sadler, John, born 1720 - died 1789 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Glazed earthenware


Height: 12.7 cm, Width: 12.7 cm, Depth: 0.7 cm

Object history note

As Sir John Brute in The Provok'd Wife, by Sir John Vanbrugh

Descriptive line

Tile decorated with an image of David Garrick (1717-1779) as Sir John Brute in Sir John Vanbrugh's The Provok'd Wife, a role he first played at Drury Lane Theatre in 1744. Tin-glazed earthenware Delft tile produced by James Sadler, Liverpool, 1777-1780.

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

A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, vol. 6. Published by Southern Illinois University Press, 1993.

Production Note

The tile is printed with an image of David Garrick as Sir John Brute in Sir John Vanbrugh's The Provok'd Wife. The image is taken from the engraving by


Glaze; Earthenware


Ceramics; Entertainment & Leisure; Tiles


Theatre and Performance Collection

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