Friday, February 20, 2015

Print of the Day: Harlequin and Mother Goose, 1811

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"Harlequin and Mother Goose"
William West, 1811
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This print from 1811 was produced by William West (?-1854) and was meant to honor the popular play “Harlequin and Mother Goose” or “The Golden Egg” which debuted at Covent Garden Theatre on Christmas of 1806. The play marked the first major appearance of Joseph Grimaldi (Joey the Clown) who premiered his famed “Bang-Up” song.

William West became known as a publisher of prints and sheets depicting theatrical characters. He worked from the “Circulating Library” which was located on Exeter Street near the Strand. By the end of his career, West published over 140 play sheets at an unheard of rate of one every month. His works served to record the most successful plays and theatrical productions of the London stage for a period of 20 years. 

This print from “Mother Goose” was his first offering. Aside from Grimaldi, we also see “Mr Simmons” as “Mother Goose,” a Harlequin representing John Bologna,, and a figure of Mr. Punch with a saltbox and rolling pin. Mr. Punch and his wife, Judy, are also show on the lower left.

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