John Bannister, Richard Suett
Oil on canvas
Sylvester Daggerwood : New Hay at the Old Market; or Sylvester Daggerwood
Fustian : New Hay at the Old Market; or Sylvester Daggerwood
height (frame): 97cm
width (frame): 86cm
"S. De Wilde Pinxt 1797" (dark brown paint b. l.)
1798 London, R.A. (159)
1833 London, Queen's Bazaar, Oxford Street, "Mr Mathews's Gallery of Theatrical Portraits" (132)
1934 London, Royal Academy, "British Painting" (263)
1951 London, Tate Gallery, "Pictures from the Garrick Club" (13)
NT 27, oil on canvas 83x72, inscr: "S. De Wilde pinxt, 1798" (exhibted in "The Georgian Playhouse" at the Haywood Gallery, London 1975, No.127); a third version, the property of Major Richard Rawnsley of Well Vale, Lincolnshire, then by descent was offered by Sotheby's, Olympia, London, "The Contents of Fulbeck Hall, Lincolnshire" 8 October 2002, [lot 382]
Patmore, p.267, where described as the companion to G0040; TAM 1935, reproduced
Sylvester Daggerwood and Fustian are provincial actors waiting for an audition in the antechamber in a manager's house. In De Wilde's picture, Fustian, on the right, has just woken Daggerwood who hands him a playbill. The furled paper in Fustian's pocket is his tragedy, "The Humane Footpad", which he later attempts to read to Daggerwood. The scene ends with the news that the manager has left without seeing them, having gone to discuss "particular business" with Mr Bannister Jnr and Mr Suett.
De Wilde seems to have tidied up the original costumes, described by 'D. G.' in the introduction to the Samuel French edition of the sketch: "Bannister fluttered in a miscellany of tawdry tatters that the loosening of a single button would have indecorously discomposed. His coat was a lattice, party-coloured - a patch-work quilt, his continuations (breeches), the sign of the chequers - an escutcheon, quartering all the colours of the rainbow; and his linen, the colour of an old hat, while the little that remained of it was hanging out, like bulrushes at the bottom of an old chair.... Then Suett, with snuff-coloured suit, every thread of which might have been accurately counted; long, lank visage; blue, gooseberry eye; gorgon wig, in eternal buckle."
In his desire to capture theatrical elegance, De Wilde has clearly missed much of the humour of the scene. Daggerwood (Bannister) stands on the left, with a black tricorn hat under his left arm. He wears black shoes with bows, black stockings and breeches, a long green coat with a white lining and large brass buttons, a white waistcoat, and a black stock. Suett has a black tricorn hat, black shoes, white stockings, black breeches, a brown coat, and a red waistcoat.
The younger Colman's “New Hay at the Old Market; An Occasional Drama” was first performed at the Haymarket on 9 June 1795, with John Bannister as Daggerwood and Suett as Fustian. The cast also included Thomas Caulfield as Apewell who lived up to his name and delivered a series of imitations. The piece was given 32 performances during its first summer season. Bannister borrowed the first scene for his benefit at Drury Lane on 13 April 1796, and played it with Suett and Caulfield. Colman seems to have liked Bannister's idea of reducing the piece to a single scene, and in that form it was given as “Sylvester Daggerwood” on 7 July 1796. Bannister played the title role, Suett was Fustian and Caulfield appeared again as Apewell with his imitations. The “Monthly Mirror” for July 1796 (p.185) reported, "Caulfield's imitations of Aickin, Suett, King and Dignum are exact even to astonishment - of the rest we do not think much." The new version of the piece did not prove as popular as the longer version and was only given ten performances during the summer season. In several subsequent seasons it was occasionally performed, usually for Bannister or Suett's benefit.