Lethe, or Aesop in the Shades

Furnishing Fabric
ca. 1766 (designed)
Lethe, or Aesop in the Shades thumbnail 1
Lethe, or Aesop in the Shades thumbnail 2
+1
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This furnishing fabric is decorated with scenes from David Garrick's play Lethe, first performed at Drury Lane Theatre, London, in 1740. The figures here are taken from prints by Gabriel Smith and A. Moseley from 1750, and the textile was probably designed at about the time of the command performance of 1766.

The lady in this scene is accompanied by a young black page-boy. Images such as this were very common in paintings and prints of the period, though they were slightly more unusual on textiles. Many black boy servants were employed, particularly by women, in white households in 18th-century western Europe. But, when they became adults, they were sometimes turned out of their homes and forced to join the ranks of the urban poor. In the 18th century, images of black people were associated with exoticism and luxury, in sharp contrast to the harsh realities of racism that characterised the experience of many black people in Europe.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Furnishing Fabric
  • Furnishing Fabric
  • Printed Cotton
Materials and Techniques
Linen and cotton, plate-printed in china blue
Brief Description
Textile with scenes from Lethe, a play by David Garrick, plate-printed cotton, Britain, ca. 1770.
Gallery Label
Scenes from 'Lethe' Linen and cotton, plate-printed in blue. Decorated with scenes from Garrick's play 'Lethe', including Kitty Clive as the 'Fair Lady' and Henry Woodward as the 'Fine Gentleman'. The play was first produced at Drury Lane in 1740. Porcelain figures of Kitty Clive and Henry Woodward in this play were made at Bow about 1750. It is probable that the textile was made to commemorate the Command Performance of 23 January 1766.(1992)
Credit line
Given by Arthur du Cane
Object history
This textile was probably designed about the time of the command performance of 'Lethe' 1766. 'Lethe: or, Esop in the shades'' a comedy, was David Garrick's first play, produced at Drury Lane in April 1740.
Historical context
Included in the V&A's 1976 exhibition '1776 : a Londoner's View', a display of domestic decorative arts.
Production
.
Association
Summary
This furnishing fabric is decorated with scenes from David Garrick's play Lethe, first performed at Drury Lane Theatre, London, in 1740. The figures here are taken from prints by Gabriel Smith and A. Moseley from 1750, and the textile was probably designed at about the time of the command performance of 1766.



The lady in this scene is accompanied by a young black page-boy. Images such as this were very common in paintings and prints of the period, though they were slightly more unusual on textiles. Many black boy servants were employed, particularly by women, in white households in 18th-century western Europe. But, when they became adults, they were sometimes turned out of their homes and forced to join the ranks of the urban poor. In the 18th century, images of black people were associated with exoticism and luxury, in sharp contrast to the harsh realities of racism that characterised the experience of many black people in Europe.
Bibliographic Reference
King, D, ed. British textile design in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Tokyo, 1980. vol.II, p. 165
Collection
Accession Number
T.75 to B-1914

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdDecember 15, 1999
Record URL