Caricature No. 516

Blowing up the Pic Nic's or Harlequin Quixotte attacking the Puppets, April 2, 1802

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Richard Brinsley Sheridan, an Irish playwright and longtime owner of London’s Drury Lane Theatre, leads the attack of professional actors enraged by the amateur performers of the Pic Nic Society. From 1660 to 1843, only Patent Theatres (those licensed by the Crown) could stage performances of serious drama. The Pic Nic not only infringed upon the patents, they had the temerity to rehearse on Sundays.

Sheridan brandishes his pen. In the swirls we read the names of newspapers that printed his anonymous screeds against the Pic Nics. The actors, both professional and amateur, were as recognizable to the London public as our celebrities are to us today. Gillray’s treatment of Sheridan was so well targeted that he was often depicted as a harlequin from this point forward.

Blowing up the Pic Nic's or Harlequin Quixotte attacking the Puppets
Artist Life
1756 - 1815
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
BM Satires 9916 See: Wright & Evans, 467
Curator Approved

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Caricature No. 516