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  • Object:


  • Date:

    ca.1832 (printed)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    lithograph and watercolour on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

John Reeve (1799-1838) is seen here as Cupid, in the burlesque Cupid, a great hit at London's Adelphi Theatre in the autumn and winter of 1832. Described on the playbills as 'not a Burlesque Burletta but a Burletta Burlesqued', Cupid featured the bulky comic actor John Reeve, a surprisingly nimble dancer, looking comically incongruent in a short tunic and floral headband. Several different prints were produced at about this time, all depicting him in ' The Grand Ballet' in Cupid, copying the great ballerina Marie Taglioni's recent novel feat of dancing on pointe. She had first done this earlier in 1832 in Paris, in the ballet La Sylphide, and also had a metal prop made on which she appeared to dance on pointe on a flower.

By 1832 John Reeve was an established favourite comedian, making a great success of roles such as Bob Acres in The Rivals and Tony Lumpkin in She Stoops to Conquer. When he toured in American in 1836, Cupid was on the bill, and a reviewer in The Knickerbocker, or New York Monthly Magazine noted how constantly he kept the audience in fits of laughter, saying: 'His dance 'a la Taglioni', was a curiosity in its way; and indeed in all the extravagant burlesque of character in which he appeared, he made great fun'.

Physical description

Lithograph, coloured by hand, showing John Reeve as Cupid wearing a short white tunic trimmed with blue ribbon at the hem, sleeves and neckline, a floral headband, and knee-length tights. He is standing on pointe on his right foot on the centre of a sunflower, his left leg out behind him. He holds an arrow in his right hand and has his left hand resting on his hip.


ca.1832 (printed)

Materials and Techniques

lithograph and watercolour on paper


Height: 27.8 cm, Width: 19.7 cm

Object history note

The cast in the original production at the Adelphi Theatre was: Mr O. Smith as Mr. Vulcan Smith; Mr. S. Smith as Corporal Marsden; Mr. Sanders as Mr. Slykey; John Reeve as Master Smith, alias Cupid; Miss Daly as Mrs. Vulcan Smith, alias Venus; Mrs Honey as Slykey, or Psyche; and Miss Novello, Miss Beaumont and Miss Walsh as the Three Old Maids or Three Miss Graces.

Descriptive line

John Reeve (1799-1838) as Cupid in the burlesque Cupid, Adelphi Theatre, October 1832. Lithograph by 'G.E.M', coloured by hand, ca.1832

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

The Knickerbocker, or New York Monthly Magazine January 1836, p.104.


Ink; Watercolour

Subjects depicted



Myths & Legends; Prints; Entertainment & Leisure


Theatre and Performance Collection

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