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Paintings: G0040


John Bannister, William Parsons


Oil on canvas



Scout : The Village Lawyer
Sheepface : The Village Lawyer





Height: 77cm
Width: 63cm


"S De Wilde ft 1793" (dark brown paint b. l.)


Charles Mathews

Other number

Mathews 133
RW/CKA 114

Exhibition history

1793 London, R.A. (285) 1833 London, Queen's Bazaar, Oxford Street, "Mr Mathews's Gallery of Theatrical Portraits" (133) 1950-51 London, Royal Academy, "British Painting (?)" (248) 1951 London, Tate Gallery, "Pictures from the Garrick Club" (8) 1951-52 London, Royal Academy, "The First 100 Years of the Royal Academy" (107) 1965 London, Kenwood House, "The Conversation Piece in Georgian London" (15) 1975 Milan, Palazzo Reale (British Council), "British Painting" (106) 1997 London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, "Dramatic Art Theatrical Paintings from the Garrick Club" (17)

Related works

Leicester 51, oil on canvas 61.6x51.1 [Prov: Spinks 1941; John A. Lewis & Son, oil, 1965 Prov: Sabin Galleries, Mrs Basil Ionides, Sotheby's 29 March 1963; see Mander & Mitchenson, "Theatre Notebook", 20 (1965)]. See also P0049

Engraving history

John Raphael Smith 1796, mezzotint, possibly from a smaller version at Leicester which is therefore likely to have been the version shown at the R.A. in 1795 (201)


Patmore, p.267, where described as the companion to G0042 Fitzgerald, pp.145-46

The scene is a courtroom. Scout has just brought off Sheepface on a charge of sheep-stealing by getting him to reply "Ba-a-a" to all the Justice's questions. Sheepface cannot pay the fee and continues to bleat. Scout (Bannister), on the left, wears a long black gown over a dark brown coat. He has a tricorn hat on the back of his head. Sheepface (Parsons) has grey stockings, light brown breeches and matching coat over a red waistcoat, and a spotted purple neckerchief. Hanging on the wall to the right is a mezzotint of Lord Mansfield.
The elder Colman's farce was first given at the Haymarket on 28 August 1787 (see G0039). John Edwin was the original Sheepface, and Parsons's first appearance in the part was at the Haymarket on 10 June 1791. Parsons played the role twelve times during the season including his benefit performance on 2 August. During the 1792 summer season Parsons played Sheepface eight times; his last performance before De Wilde's picture was painted occurred on 1 September 1792. For another study by De Wilde of Parsons in this role see G0658.
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