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Print - The Theatrical Atlas
  • The Theatrical Atlas
    George Cruikshank, born 27 - died 1
  • Enlarge image

The Theatrical Atlas

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (published)

  • Date:

    1814 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    George Cruikshank, born 27 - died 1 (engraver)
    H. Humphrey (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand coloured etching, ink on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Print, 'The Theatrical Atlas', engraved by George Cruickshank, published by H. Humphrey, 1814.

Edmund Kean (1787-1833) is seen in this print, published in May 1814, in his costume for Richard III supporting a model of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (labelled Whitbreads Intire) on his shoulders. Samuel Whitbread (1720-1796) is shown wearing a beer barrel and standing on the steps of the theatre shouting: 'now by St. Pauls the work goes bravely on'.

Richard was Kean’s second major Shakespearean role at Drury Lane. On 26th January 1814 the then unknown actor from Exeter had demonstrated a completely new style of emotional and energetic acting with his captivating portrayal of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. When Kean played it again on 1st and 3rd February the critics were out in force to report rapturously on his fresh interpretation. He chose Richard III as his next major role to consolidate his success, and to demonstrate his mastery of the lengthy part that had been associated with the great David Garrick. The rapturous reaction to Kean’s Richard meant that Drury Lane had a bankable new star in their firmament, and a smash hit production.

The brewer and MP Samuel Whitbread had been a major shareholder of Drury Lane Theatre since Richard Sheridan had called on his help after the disastrous fire of 1809 had razed the theatre to the ground. The print is a satirical comment on Samuel Whitbread's dependence on Edmund Kean's success to ensure the future financial security of the newly built Drury Lane Theatre, which at the time was close to bankruptcy.

Physical description

Hand coloured and etched caricature portrait of Edmund Kean as Richard III entitled 'The Theatrical Atlas'.

Place of Origin

London (published)


1814 (published)


George Cruikshank, born 27 - died 1 (engraver)
H. Humphrey (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Hand coloured etching, ink on paper


Height: 24.5 cm Print size, Width: 16 cm of print

Descriptive line

Print, caricature of Edmund Kean as Richard III, 'The Theatrical Atlas', engraved by George Cruickshank, published by H. Humphrey, 1814


Paper; Printing ink; Wash


Print-making; Etching; Painting; Hand-colouring

Subjects depicted

Satire; Caricature


Entertainment & Leisure; Prints


Theatre and Performance Collection

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