By Shearer West, Mark Leonard, Robyn Asleson, Shelley Bennett

Well known for her majestic attractiveness and impassioned performances, the English actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) revolutionized the aesthetics of eighteenth-century theater whereas inventing a fancy public personality to advertise her repute. Her aptitude for self-presentation was once matched by way of the showmanship of the numerous artists who portrayed her. the following 3 full of life essays--by Robyn Asleson, Shelley Bennett, Mark Leonard, and Shearer West--explore Siddons's existence and occupation, in addition to her relationships with a couple of artists. outstanding between them was once 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 images of Siddons together with works by means of Thomas Gainsborough, George Romney, Thomas Lawrence, and Gilbert Stuart.

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A Passion For Performance: Sarah Siddons and Her Portraitists

Popular for her majestic attractiveness and impassioned performances, the English actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) revolutionized the aesthetics of eighteenth-century theater whereas inventing a posh public personality to advertise her popularity. Her aptitude for self-presentation was once matched through the showmanship of the various artists who portrayed her.

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Samuel de Wilde's portrait of Sarah Siddons as Isabella (fig. 10) shows the actress delicately extending the ring of her beloved husband in one hand, while raising the other as if to ward off the troubling medley of emotions that the ring inspires. Thomas Stothard's print Sarah Siddons as Isabella: "II Penseroso" (fig. Il) alludes to the mobility and fluidity of Siddons's performance style by representing the actress simultaneously looking back and gesturing forward. A satirical print entitled How to harrow up the Soul—Oh-h-h!

Substantial and useful biographical material is available on Siddons. , Kalman Burnim, and Edward Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and II. 12,. 13. 14. ; Roger Manvell, Sarah Siddons: Portrait of an Actress (New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1970); and Michael R. Booth's thought-provoking essay in Michael R. Booth, John Stokes, and Susan Bassnett, Three Tragic Actresses: Siddons, Rachel, Ristori (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). For arguments about this, see Aston, Feminism and the Theatre; and Michael S.

York: Wilson, Spence, and Mawman, l795)> 2= 8. Boaden, Memoirs of Siddons, I: 32; P. P. , The Complete Works of William Ha4itt, 21 vols. , Thraliana, 2: 715. , I: 214 — 26. Boaden, Memoirs of Siddons, 2: 133Fuseli's study of Siddons as Lady Constance was sold at Sotheby's on 3 April 1996, lot 2O. On Siddons's androgynous dress as Rosalind, see Boaden, Memoirs of Siddons, 2= 166. Early in her career, Siddons was well known for her portrayal of Hamlet on the provincial circuit, and she performed male Shakespearean characters again in public readings after her retirement.

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