- Museum number
- Object: Theatrical jealousy- or- the rival queens of Covent Garden.
The title continues: 'vide the late extroardinary Re-appearance of Mrs Siddons after saying "Farewell"— and taking a formal leave of the Stage some Years ago—' Mrs. Siddons (left), with sour, irate expression and extended arms, walks towards Miss O'Neill (right) who stands in a dignified but theatrical pose, right arm raised, directed to the left They are dressed in a similar fashion which becomes the younger actress but not the older; both wear jewelled fillets in their hair, with three erect feathers and hanging drapery. Both are décolletée, with looped and trained overdresses; Mrs. Siddons, stout and ravaged by time, has a more ornate dress, which appears tawdry beside that of her rival. The lines are adapted from Lee's tragedy. Mrs. Siddons (Roxana):
'Return fair Insolent! Return I say,
Darst thou presumptuous to invade my rights?
............. I will resume my sphere
Or falling spread a general ruin round me
O'N—l and S—d—s! they are names
That must for ever Jar! ["Rival Queens", iii. 1.]
When they Encounter, Thunder must ensue!!'
Miss O'Neill (Statira):
'Rival I thank thee—thou has't fir'd my Soul
And rais'd a storm beyond thy power to lay
Soon shalt thou tremble at the dire effects
And curse too late the folly which undid thee
On Eagles wings my rage shall urge her flight
And hurl thee headlong from thy topmost height
There like thy fate superior will I sit
And view thee fall'n and Groveling at my feet!'
The left corner of the stage is shown, with the glass chimneys of the footlights along the base of the design. Behind a pillar (left) the profiles of John and Charles Kemble look out anxiously at their elder sister. A woman's hand holding a fan and a playbill hanging over the front of the box indicate the occupant of a stage-box (left); her words float upwards in a label: "All Envy! Spite and Envy, by the Gods!" A voice from the pit floats (right) towards Miss O'Neill: "Erin go Bragh!" There is an architectural background, with a curtain hanging in straight folds from an archway (right). After the title:
How does thy Rancour poison all our softness
And turn our gentle natures into bitterness
See where she comes!"
Etching with hand-colouring
- Production date
Height: 248 millimetres
Width: 347 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
On 6 and 22 June Mrs. Siddons, who had retired from the stage in 1812, see No. 11935, played Lady Macbeth at the request of Princess Charlotte. This was deplored in the 'Examiner', 16 June, in an article beginning: 'Players should be immortal, if their own wishes or ours could make them so; but they are not.' Eliza O'Neill (1791-1872), a much-admired tragic actress, made her début at Covent Garden in 1814. Mrs. Siddons made occasional appearances in benefit performances, &c., in 1813, 1815, 1817, 1819, as well as in 1816. Cf. No. 6126.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number