- Place of origin:
Boitard, Louis Philippe (engraver)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Credit Line:
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
This print, sold by a London bookseller and print-maker in February 1763, was a topical satirical comment on a riot at Covent Garden Theatre that month led by the Irish critic Thaddeus Fitzpatrick. It depicts the rioters invading the stage while the text parodies the libretto of Arne's opera Artaxerxes which was being performed by singers including the great tenor John Beard. The libretto reveals the increasing anxiety of the performers: 'They'll throw the Seats about our Ears/ And tear the Boxes down', while the rioters in the audience encourage the mayhem: 'Either your house, your pride, or price must come down!' A lot of damage was done to the theatre that night, with benches torn up, chandeliers smashed and the linings of the boxes cut to pieces.
The Covent Garden riot, caused by the theatre withdrawing half-price tickets for those who came to the theatre after the main play to see the after-piece, followed a similar incident at Drury Lane Theatre the previous month. This was also led by Fitzpatrick who had been engaged in a feud since the 1750s with Drury Lane's owner, the actor David Garrick. Finally tiring of Fritzpatrick's behaviour in the theatre when he would whinny with laughter during sombre scenes, Garrick attacked Fitzpatrick in his 1761 poem The Fribbleriad. Although Garrick didn't run Covent Garden Theatre, it was owned by John Beard who was Garrisck's friend and supporter. Both managers eventually succombed to the rioters' demands.
Print comprising an engraving and text. The engraving shows one audience member on stage while five others, one with a club, are climbing over the orchestra to reach the stage. Other audience members are standing up in the boxes while the performers on stage performing Thomas Arne's Artaxerxes look on in consternation. The printed text below is titled 'FITZ-GIGGO, A NEW ENGLISH UPROAR, As it was performed at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden, on Thursday last, by Mr. Beard, Miss Brent, Signor Tenducci, Pit, Boxes, Galleries &c. &c. The Words adapted (al Burlesquo) to the favourite Airs in the opera of Artaxerxes.'
Place of Origin
Boitard, Louis Philippe (engraver)
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
Ms notes: 'L. Boitard' 'Feb 24 1763' 'OP' in pencil, to either side of the title.
The note 'OP' refers erroneously to the later Old Price riots which took place at Covent Garden Theatre in 1809.
Height: 40.6 cm, Width: 25.2 cm, Depth: 8.8 cm of base
Object history note
In February 1763, a mob led by Thaddeus Fitzpatrick stormed the stage at Covent Garden to protest a new policy of not allowing admission at half-price after the third act. The Gentleman's Magazine reported what ensued:
'A riot happened at Covent-Garden theatre, occasioned by a demand being made for full prices at the opera of Artaxerxes. The mischief done was the greatest ever known on any occasion of the like kind: all the benches of the boxes and pit being entirely tore up, the glasses and chandeliers broken, and the linings of the boxes cut to pieces. The rashness of the rioters was so great, that they cut away the wooden pillars between the boxes, so if the inside of them had not been iron, they would have brought down the galleries upon their heads. The damages done amount to at least 2000 l. Four persons concern'd in the riot have been committed to the Gatehouse.'
Satirical print entitled Fitz-giggo, a new English Uproar, inspired by the riot at Covent Garden Theatre led by Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, 24 February 1763. Engraving and letterpress. Robert Eddison Collection
The print was sold by 'E. Sumpter, Print and Book-seller at the Bible and Crown, three doors from Shoemaker Lane, Fleet-Street, and all the Print and Book-sellers in London and Westminster; where may be had The British Antidote, First and Second Volumes, 10.6d coloured, 5s plain'.
Printing ink; Paper
Orchestra; Thrust stages; Audiences; Auditorium; Chandeliers
Entertainment & Leisure
Theatre and Performance Collection