Richard Leveridge’s Songs
Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). Frontispiece to Leveridge’s Songs, 1727. Young woman pointing at music book and violin lying before her in a landscape, raising her eyes to Bacchus + Venus enthroned on the clouds and asking for their favor for Leveridge’s compositions, supported in this by little Cupid pleading with mother Venus to have an ear for the earthy one. Bacchus finally with vine in the raised right and wine-leaves decorating his head. Engraving by Thomas Cook (c. 1744 – London 1818). Inscribed: (Hogarth pinx) / T. Cook sculp. / (Published by Long)man, Hurst, Rees & Orme, Oct. 1st. 1809., otherwise as above. Subject size 6⅜ × 4¼ in (16.3 × 10.7 cm).
Richard Leveridge (1670-1758) was the leading London bass singer since 1795, also composing himself. In the early 1720s bound up with the great John Rich and his Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre, then Covent Garden. In 1702 he was successful with his music for Macbeth and took on here the character of Hecate. He should sing it until his retirement from the stage in 1751, but its melody still surpassed him by a whole century. He became downright immortal, however, by setting to music anew Henry Fielding’s patriotic ballad The Roast Beef of Old England which this had written for his The Grub-Street Opera played for the first time in 1731.
Cook “made his mark as Hogarth engraver, too” (Thieme-Becker); present frontispiece, however, he has treated supposedly for the first time only in the small edition of the years 1806/09 following his folio edition. Reproduced is Hogarth’s one to the 1727 2-vol. edition of the Songs, still reminding of his early works. Already in the 1820s an original impression of the same “was sold for the enormous sum of 5 guineas (about £ 5)”. – Trimmed within the on three sides wide white platemark with partial drop of the address and here on two sides feebly brownspotted. On the left without subject lining.
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