Opening Night 289 Years Ago
Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). The Beggars Opera. John Gay’s immortal opera – Act III, Scene 11 – in John Rich’s first night of 1728 at the sold out house. Engraving by Thomas Cook (c. 1744 – London 1818). Inscribed: Design’d by W. Hogarth. / Engrav’d by T. Cook., title as before. 9¾ × 11 in (24.8 × 28 cm).
With caption :
“ Brittons attend — view this harmonious Stage
And listen to those notes which charm the age
Thus shall your tastes in Sounds & Sense be shown
And Beggars Op’ras ever be your own. ”
“ In the former, all the characters are drawn with the heads of different animals: as Polly with a cat’s; Lucy with a sow’s; Macheath with that of an ass; Lockit and Mr. and Mrs. Peachum with those of an ox, a dog, and an owl. In the latter, several Noblemen appear conducting the chief Female Singer forward on the Stage … Harmony, flying in the air, turn her back on the English Playhouse, and hastens toward the Rival Theatre. Musicians stand in front of the former … ”
“ The most important achieved hitherto by English poets in this kind … was given 63 times running and ousted the Italian comedy dominating till now completely from the stage. A sequel of that, ‘Polly’, was not allowed to be performed for the court and the archbishop of Canterbury took offense at that, but, printed on subscription, earned the poet the sum of 1200 pounds sterl. ”
(Meyers Konvers.-Lex., 4th ed., VI, 960 f.).
Contrary to all later Hogarth editions in its original size. Cook “made himself a name as Hogarth engraver, too” (Thieme-Becker). – Below trimmed within the wide platemark, in the wide upper two faint tidemarks.
Offer no. 7,581 / EUR 240. (c. US$ 292.) + shipping
– – – The same. Cook’s smaller repetition engraved together with his son. Inscribed: Hogarth pinxt. / T. Cook & Son sc. / Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, May 1st. 1808., title as above. Subject size 5½ × 6⅞ in (13.9 × 17.4 cm).
In reverse to Cook’s large first version, as to that by Hogarth. – Trimmed within the wide white platemark. This somewhat browned on the outer parts of two sides.
Offer no. 8,916 / EUR 146. (c. US$ 178.) + shipping
– – – The same in Hogarth’s own engraving. Inscribed: Design’d by W. Hogarth., title + caption as above. 9⅞ × 11 in (25 × 28 cm).
Impression from the plate retouched by the royal engraver James Heath (1757 London 1834) about 1822 (“Even these impressions have become relatively rare today though”, Art Gallery Esslingen 1970; and Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., VIII , 625: “A fine edition”, esteemed also already by contemporary collectors of the rank of for instance an A. T. Stewart [Catalog of the Stewart Collection, New York 1887, 1221, “fine plates”]) on strong paper. – As half size trimmed below within the wide platemark.
Offer no. 7,837 / EUR 176. (c. US$ 214.) + shipping
“ Sir, yes, (the Rubens) is closer to the one in London (recte Dresden), but the one we have is on copper. Thank you for your time. Highest regards, D… A… (and yes America could use a blessing about now) ”
(Mr. D. A., November 4, 2003)