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Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
The mistake of interpreting 18th-century theatrical portraits too literally has been made since the 19th-century when a different set of artistic codes prevailed. The image of the 18th-century actor which we can obtain from prints, paintings and pamphlets of the time, is not a collection of visual truths, but a construction based on critical canons, aesthetic prejudices, and commercial motivations prevalent during the period. Through an analysis of the importance of theatre among all the pleasures and pastimes enjoyed by 18th-century Londoners the author presents a detailed picture of the cultural climate inhabited by the actor and his audience. The overwhelming fascination they had with the actor provides the background to an analysis of the function of the theatrical portrait, the burgeoning economy of the engraver, and the illustrator. Concepts of classicism and realism are explored in terms of how Garrick and Kemble will have been viewed in their work. The author also draws an interesting analogy between the aesthetics of action and sculptural representation through the work of Siddons, and goes on to consider the representation of the comic actor and how it was informed by art and art theory.West, Shearer is the author of 'Image of the Actor Verbal and Visual Representation in the Age of Garrick and Kemble' with ISBN 9780312057381 and ISBN 0312057385.
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