Hogarth’s Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn deals with the suppression of "unlicensed" theater companies beginning June 21, 1737, through which English Prime Minister Robert Walpole muffled the voices of opposition playwrights. Hogarth depicts a provincial company preparing to present its final performance before the act goes into effect.
Part of the print’s humor lies in the chasm between the noble characters these actresses portray and the humble circumstances of their rehearsal. One actress, dressed as Juno, declaims her lines while having her stockings sewn, leg extended. Another, as Diana, strikes an artistic pose at the center of the composition, while the actress in the "breech," or male, role has a toothache and is offered gin by the Siren. Among the print’s myriad vignettes, birds roost on scenery, a crown acts as a table, and a woman dressed as an eagle-headed Jupiter tries to feed a distressed baby—the joke being that Jupiter, in the form of an eagle, infamously and with lascivious intentions kidnapped the boy Ganymede.
From the 2021 exhibition A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein Collection, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Katherine W. Hart, Senior Curator of Collections and Barbara C. & Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming; John R. Stomberg Ph.D, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director; Jessica Hong, Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art; and Melissa McCormick, Professor of Japanese Art and Culture at Harvard University
ENGL 20, Age of Satire, Alysia Garrison, Winter 2014
ENGL 22, The Rise of the Novel, Alysia Garrison, Spring 2015
ENGL 22, Rise of the Novel, Alysia Garrison, Spring 2019
Pinpricks and Pomposity: The Inventiveness of English Visual Satire, A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein Collection, Class of 1967 Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 17–August 28, 2021.
John R. Stomberg, A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein collection; Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, Hood Museum of Art, 2021, Plate 18, p.35, detail fig 3.3, p.32, listed p.98.
Andrew Edmunds, London, England; sold to Jane and Raphael Bernstein, Ridgewood, New Jersey, December 18th, 1997; lent to present collection, 2010; given to present collection, 2014.
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