Oil on canvas
Robin Hood : Robin Hood; or Sherwood Forest
height (frame): 85cm
width (frame): 72cm
1833 London, Queen's Bazaar, Oxford Street, "Mr Mathews's Gallery of Theatrical Portraits" (33)
1982-83 London, R. A. "Royal Opera House Retrospective 1732-1982" (132)
Robin Hood is betrothed to Clorinda, the "Huntress of Titbury." In Act II, Clorinda tells Robin to stop "consuming life and reputation within the sequestered shades of a forest" and fight for his king. Robin replies with the line cited by Mathews, "You know all the wrongs I have suffered," - at having been banished on a false accusation, and having had Clorinda forced from his arms. Bowden wears a brown doublet, a fur-trimmed cloak with a red band round his neck, and a brown hat with a white plume.
Macnally's comic opera, with music mostly by William Shield, was first performed at Covent Garden on 17 April 1784, with Charles Bannister in the title role. Wright Bowden made his début at Covent Garden in the role on 18 October 1787, and repeated the role several times during the season. If this picture relates to the series commissioned by Thomas Harris from Gainsborough Dupont, about 1798, it is likely that it then it was inspired by the performance on 2 May 1794 (for Incledon's benefit) which marked Bowden's return to London after six years in the provinces.
In his catalogue Mathews attributed the picture to Dupont, but stylistically it differs from the other works by him in the collection, and the attribution must be doubtful. The identity of the sitter is secure, and the picture relates closely to John Raphael Smith's mezzotint of Bowden as Robin Hood, published in 1787.