Today, I received a large brown box with David Garrick inside – well, ok, a Staffordshire figurine depicting him in the role of Richard III. I purchased him on eBay for 10 pounds, a pretty awesome deal for such a celebrated actor. He’s obviously been around for a while, as a slightly chipped nose and several visible cracks suggest, but he’s still pretty spectacular! And large. He’s at least 7 inches in height, the same as a typical photo frame for school pictures (he’s positioned between photos of my two boys right now). And I can imagine a middle-class family purchasing such a figurine and delicately placing it on the mantlepiece as a way of holding onto the memory of having seen Garrick. In fact, I purchased him as a way of extending my research on Staffordshire figurines. While I’ve seen and held them now, thanks to my time in the Houghton, it’s something else to own and live around such an impressive figure. And so I’m hopeful that my experience with DG will give me additional insights into the relationships that developed between performers and audiences in the early to mid-nineteenth century.
On a more tangential note, I also can’t help thinking that there’s something peculiarly eggplant like about the figurine – I know it’s supposed to represent Garrick as Richard III awakening from a nightmare while in camp (the famous “tent scene”) but I can’t help but see it as an eggplant – or a uterus, but that is perhaps a topic for another day.
I need to do a bit more digging to find out the date for the figurine, although this entry on eBay for an almost identical figurine of Garrick as Richard III indicates that the colours are from the 1820s. Surprisingly, this particular figurine is on sale for $900 USD, over $1,000 Cdn, which makes me feel like I was incredibly fortunate to have paid what I did for my DG.
Now I just have to find a safe place to put him. If only our home had a mantlepiece.