Etching of Rich's Glory

Etching of Rich's Glory

This satirical print from the workshop of William Hogarth was made after the opening of Covent Garden theatre in 1732.

Actor-manager John Rich moved from his theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields which he had been regularly selling out with performances of his new invention, the pantomime. He had lately had an even greater triumph with a musical play, The Beggar's Opera, by John Gay.

The scene shows a carriage arriving in Covent Garden (we can see St Paul's Church in the background) with a procession moving towards the newly opened Theatre Royal. In the carriage is John Rich, dressed as the performing dog that appeared in his version of Perseus and Andromeda. Rich was most famous for playing the character of Harlequin in his productions which combined classical subjects with pantomime to popular effect. Hogarth's low opinion of the quality of Rich's shows is indicated in this depiction of him as a dalmatian dog. A Harlequin is shown driving the carriage which is pulled by satyrs. John Gay follows, carried by a porter, while the crowd shouts 'Rich for ever'. The poem below the print criticises other followers in the parade, actors from the 18th century popular stage, including James Quin.