James Caldwall after William Hamilton
Mrs. Siddons in the Tragedy of the Grecian Daughter
18 x 25 inches
A full-length etched portrait of Mrs. Siddons engraved by James Caldwall after the portrait by Hamilton; published in London in 1789.
Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) was one of the most dazzling and highly acclaimed actresses of her generation and still holds a fascination to this day. She was born into a theatrical family in rural Wales where her father, Roger Kemble, managed a repertory theatre company. Her ability upon the stage soon got her noticed and by 1777 she was a feature on the provincial circuit appearing in playhouses down in Bristol, Bath and eventually London. It was here that she caught the eye of the infamous theatre director, David Garrick. Once under the influence of Garrick she became established as the leading Tragedienne, or tragedy actress, of the age. She played all the Shakespearian heroines but the role for which she will be best remembered is that of Lady Macbeth. Throughout the 1780s and 90s she became the undisputed Queen of Drury Lane. Crowds flocked to see her act and she rapidly became a leading figure with the Beau Monde of London's literary and social elite. Society loved her, and she repaid the adoration with thrilling performances both on and off the stage. Upon seeing the Elgin Marbles on a visit to the British Museum she is said to have fainted with wonder in a performance worthy of Drury Lane. By the time of her retirement in 1812 she had become a cultural icon and to this day she is remembered through the Sarah Siddons Award, presented in Chicago each year to promising young actresses.