By Shearer West, Mark Leonard, Robyn Asleson, Shelley Bennett
Well known for her majestic good looks and impassioned performances, the English actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) revolutionized the aesthetics of eighteenth-century theater whereas inventing a fancy public character to advertise her repute. Her aptitude for self-presentation was once matched via the showmanship of the various artists who portrayed her. right here 3 energetic essays--by Robyn Asleson, Shelley Bennett, Mark Leonard, and Shearer West--explore Siddons's lifestyles and profession, in addition to her relationships with a couple of artists. awesome between them used to be Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose masterpiece Sarah Siddons because the Tragic Muse grew to become an icon of this nice actress on the height of her occupation. This lavish quantity additionally brings jointly fifty-five different pix of Siddons together with works by way of Thomas Gainsborough, George Romney, Thomas Lawrence, and Gilbert Stuart.
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Extra resources for A Passion For Performance: Sarah Siddons and Her Portraitists
But Harlow also painted Siddons's Lady Macbeth as the fragile beauty in the sleepwalking scene (fig. 6), where the gesture of washing her hands of crime appears selfprotective and her expression signifies bewilderment rather than purpose. Thomas Beach's portrait of Siddons as a fearful Lady Macbeth in the dagger scene (fig. 7) further hints at the crumbling facade of the character's strength and thus echoes more clearly Siddons's own interpretation of Lady Macbeth's essential vulnerability. Figure 6.
1760 — 66. ). Zurich, Kunsthaus. © 1999 Kunsthaus Zurich. 26 A Passion for Performance representations of Siddons, such as the relief by Thomas Campbell (fig. 20) and the bust attributed to Joachim Smith (fig. 2l), depict Siddons in the dress of a Roman matron,7 reinforcingo her imagfe o as a classical heroine and ideal feminine type. Siddons also became more clearly associated with the genre of history painting, which was gaining cautious popularity among artists in the 17808 and l79Os thanks to the advocacy of Reynolds in his position as president of the Royal Academy of Arts.
The transference of such conventions from writing to art and acting was consolidated by Henry Fuseli's sketchy and suggestive depiction of Siddons in the dagger scene of Macbeth (fig. 17) > possibly painted in l8l2, the year of her official retirement. Here Fuseli deliberately overturned the fussy literalism of Johann Zoffany's view of Garrick and Hannah Pritchard performing the same role nearly fifty years before (fig. 18), as well as his own previous representation of those performers in the dagger scene (fig.