HB Sketches No 736. Acis and Galatea (caricature)

Text in English below image includes appropriate quotes from John Gay's lyrics to Handel's 'Acis and Galatea'. This is a satirical print in the series 'Political Sketches', published by Thomas McLean, 1821-51. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel (as Acis), singing to Galatea ( the Duke of Wellington, dressed as a nymph); 'The flocks shall leave the mountains / The nymphs desert the fountains / 'Ere I desert my love'. Above, John Bull as the one-eye cyclops Polyphemus ('Fury! Rage! Despair / I cannot bear' ) prepares to drop a huge stone inscribed 'INCOME TAX' on Peel's head. The employment of Handel's serenata of 1718 (based on Ovid) for this squib refers to the celebrated theatrical adaptation and revival of it at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which opened on 5 February 1842. It was staged by the great actor William Charles Macready, in his second and last period of theatre management, with scenery by his friend the theatre and marine painter Clarkson Stanfield, who had retired from the stage at the end of 1834 but did this as a favour for Macready. The latter's direction, integrating spectacle and fine performances in what was originally only a short concert work, and one rarely performed, made the revival a London sensation. The piece ends after Polyphemus, jealous of the sea nymph Galatea's love for the Sicilian shepherd Acis, hurls down a rock that crushes and kills him. The distraught Galatea turns Acis into a stream which issues from the spot, eternally murmuring their love. Doyle's original drawing is in the British Museum (see Notebook field) and the design is based on the staging in the last scene of Macready's production, which is illustrated in the published musical score arranged by Thomas Simpson Cooke (copy in the British Library). [PvdM 3/07]

Object Details

ID: PAF4126
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: McLean, Thomas; Doyle, John McLean, Thomas
Date made: 18 Jul 1842
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: 388 mm x 282 mm
Parts: Political sketches by H.B. John Doyle (caricatures) (Album)

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