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Paintings: G0121


Catherine Clive


Oil on canvas



Mrs Riot, the Fine Lady : Lethe; or Aesop in the Shades



Height: 60cm
Width: 44cm
height (frame): 74cm
width (frame): 58cm


Charles Mathews (bt. 1822)

Other number

Mathews 94 (by Hogarth)
RW 376 (by Hogarth)
CKA 376 (artist uncertain)

Exhibition history

1833 London, Queen's Bazaar, Oxford Street, "Mr Mathews's Gallery of Theatrical Portraits" (94) 1962 Chichester, Chichester Antiques Ltd, "The Painter and the Stage" (15) 1974 Twickenham, Orleans House Gallery, "Garrick to Kean" (11)

Engraving history

Charles Mosley 1750, line 29.8x22.2 (in reverse there is no black boy behind Mrs Riot, her dress has a decorated hem, and the boat is placed further away, with the passengers arranged somewhat differently) [the engraving was used by the Bow factory to manufacture one of the first four portrait figures in English porcelain] Anon., line 4.5 diam. (watch paper) another anonymous small engraving, see PM0286

The scene is "a grove, with a view of the River Lethe," and Mrs Riot has already arrived in Elysium, the seventh visitor of the day after the Poet, the Old Man, a Fine Gentleman, Mr and Mrs Tatoo, and a Frenchman. She thinks Aesop very ugly and demands the pump-room, thinking Elysium a fashionable watering place: "Show me to the pump-room, then, fellow - where's the Company? I die in solitude." Aesop tries to philosophise with her, but she gives him a receipt for the vapours and sings a song "The card invites, in crowds we fly / To join the jovial rout full cry".
She wears a full silver panniered dress with a separate silver silk bodice. She has a blue muff trimmed with white fur on her right arm and a little black dog under her left arm. A little black boy on the left wears a red jacket and blue waistcoat. A man and a boatman are seen in the background on the left.
This dramatic satire by Garrick, his first success as a playwright, was first produced at Drury Lane on 15 April 1740, with Henry Woodward as the Fine Gentleman and Mrs Clive as Mrs Riot. Mrs Clive chose “Lethe” for her final benefit at Drury Lane on 24 April 1769, when Thomas King played Lord Chalkstone for the first time, and James Dodd was the Fine Gentleman.
This vivacious comedienne was one of England's celebrated personages in the middle years of the 18th century. An amusing actress and a good comic singer, Kitty was lavished praised by the critics and adoring members of society.
In his “Dramatic Censor” (1770), Francis Gentleman believed Mrs Heidelberg in “The Clandestine Marriage” to have been "lost to the public when Mrs Clive retired."
A phosphatic porcelain figure of her as the “Fine Lady” was made at Bow c.1750-55. A companion figure of Henry Woodward as the “Fine Gentleman” was fired at the same time.
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