Item #05627 Theatrical Characters. William HEATH.
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters
Theatrical Characters

Theatrical Characters

London: Thomas M'Lean, 1829. Item #05627

Politics As Theater - Political Actors Lampooned
By Britain's "Leading Caricaturist, Prolific Alike in Social and Political Satire"

HEATH, William. Theatrical Characters. London: Thomas M'Lean, Dec. 1, 1829.

First edition, first impression with plates dated Oct. 26 to Nov. 9. Large folio (16 1/8 x 11 1/8 in; 410 x 280 mm).
Ten hand-colored etchings with captions. No title page, as issued.

Publisher's original tan wrappers printed in black, strengthened by a later navy blue cloth backstrip. Wrappers slightly soiled with some wear to extremities. The plates, however, are, generally clean and vividly colored. Exceptionally rare in the original wrappers, no matter what the condition… Housed in a felt-lined black cloth clamshell case.

Only four complete copies in institutional holdings worldwide: Harvard University (MA,US); National Library of Ireland; National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Heath broadly satirizes contemporary British political figures as members of a theatrical company, the year 1829 presenting many opportunities for dramatic and comic theatrics in Parliament and the Palace.

The Plates:

1. The Manager (King George IV).
2. Harlequin (Robert Peel, Home Secretary).
3. Prima Donna (The King's mistress, Lady Conyngham).
4. One of the Audience (John Bull, plundered by taxes).
5. Stage Manager (The Duke of Wellington, PM).
6. The Irish Actor (Daniel O'Connell, MP).
7. Business Manager (James Scarlett, Baron Abinger, Attorney-General).
8. Scene Painter and Property Man (John Copley, 1st Baron Lyndhurst, Lord Chancellor)
9. The Clown (Sir Thomas Buckler Lethbridge, 2nd Baronet, MP).
10. An Old Actress (Lord Eldon).

William Heath (aka by pseudonym Paul Pry, 1795–1840), caricaturist and illustrator, was born in Northumbria. "Assuming that the particulars in his obituary notice in the Gentleman's Magazine are correct, Heath was only fourteen when his first satirical prints were published in 1809. Although he continued to etch occasional caricatures over the next fifteen years, he was principally occupied in illustrating books, mainly on military themes...When the demand for military prints declined in the 1820s Heath reverted to caricatures, published either as individual prints or as sets, and soon established himself in a leading position. In 1825–6 Heath was in Scotland, writing and illustrating the first magazine in the world to be given over, predominantly, to caricatures. The Glasgow Looking Glass... When the demand for military prints declined in the 1820s Heath reverted to caricatures, published either as individual prints or as sets, and soon established himself in a leading position.

"Heath returned to London in 1827 and for the next two years was the leading caricaturist, prolific alike in social and political satire. In 1827 he started to sign his prints with a little drawing of the actor Liston in the role of Paul Pry, a character who interfered in other peoples' business in John Poole's eponymous comedy (1825). However the Paul Pry device attracted plagiarists on such a scale that in 1829, having complained on a caricature of a ‘dirty rogue’ who was ‘robbing us of our ideas and just profit’, he abandoned it. When on 1 January 1830 Thomas McLean, the leading purveyor of comic art, launched a monthly magazine of caricatures, available in plain and hand-coloured versions, called the Looking Glass, he advertised it as having been ‘drawn and etched’ by ‘William Heath’ for whom he acted as ‘sole Publisher’. Clearly Heath's name was the selling point, yet after seven issues he was replaced by Robert Seymour. Perhaps McLean felt that Seymour's lithographs better expressed the new spirit of delicacy to which he was attuning himself. Or perhaps he had become exasperated by Heath's ‘careless habits—drink, debts and unpunctuality’... In any event, after 1830 Heath's output of caricatures declined rapidly... The Gentleman's Magazine recorded that on 7 April 1840 ‘William Heath, artist’ died at ‘Hampstead, London, aged 45’" (Oxford DNB).

William Heath also illustrated among others:
Parish Characters (10 colored plates). London: Thomas M'Lean, 1829
Household Servants (6 colored plates). London: Thomas M'Lean, 1829
The Search after the Comfortable. (6 colored plates). London: Thomas M'Lean, 1829
A Trip to Margate. (6 colored plates). London: Thomas M'Lean, 1828

Bobins IV, 1341; D. George, BM Satires 15895-15904; Hardie, p. 158.

Price: $11,500.00

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