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View of the East Front of the new Theatre Royal Covent Garden

View of the East Front of the new Theatre Royal Covent Garden

Engraver: Daniell, William

Medium: Aquatint, coloured

Date: 1809

Shelfmark: Ktop XXV

Item number: 19-1-b

Genre: Topographical Print

In the 18th century, the Theatre Royal was a place of scandal and controversy. In 1716 the future George II survived an assassination attempt in the theatre. Then in 1780 the Gordon Rioters attacked the theatre on account of its use of "papists and Frenchmen". In 1800, there was another royal assassination attempt, this time on George III. A new Henry Holland-designed theatre was built in the late-18th century, but it burned down in 1809. It was rebuilt in 1811 to an expensive design by Benjamin Wyatt. This is the design shown in this engraving.

Reference to this print is found in John Farington's Diary. On Tues 5 September 1809, he records William Daniell calling and showing him "an impression of a plate He has executed 'Covent Garden Theatre' - tinted, price, one guinea." The reaction of his audience to this print was unfortunately not favourable. Farington notes that when Lysons and Lawrence viewed the print: "they expressed their disappobation of it, in the strongest manner, as not giving any idea of the dignity of the building, the point of the sight chosen too high, the street too wide- & half the paper sky. Lawrence went to W. Daniell to recommend to Him to execute another plate."

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