William Blake after William Hogarth
Beggar’s Opera, Act III.
London, J. & J. Boydell ca 1805
Etching and copper engraving
460 x 585mm
William Blake’s (1757-1827) dramatic rendition, after Hogarth’s painting, of a performance of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera first performed at Lincon’s Inn Fields in 1728. The scene is Newgate gaol, Polly Peachum, played by Lavinia Fenton afterwards Duchess of Bolton (1708-60), kneels on the floor to the left of the design, while Lucy played by Mrs Egleton also kneels, pleading for the life of Macheath, played by Thomas Walker (1698-1744), who stands centre stage, with arms folded, wearing manacles. The painting was purchased by the Tate Gallery, London in 1909.