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Paintings: G0116


Colley Cibber


Oil on canvas



Lord Foppington : The Relapse; or Virtue in Danger



Height: 127cm
Width: 102cm
height (frame): 145cm
width (frame): 121cm


"Colley Cibber Esqr. / in the / Character of Ld. Foppington" (brown paint b. l.)


Joseph Addison?; Mr Ireland?; Thomas Harris; Harris sale, Robins 12 July 1819 (46); Charles Mathews

Other number

Mathews 46

Exhibition history

1833 London, Queen's Bazaar, Oxford Street, "Mr Mathews's Gallery of Theatrical Portraits" (46) 1949 Birmingham, City Museum and Art Gallery, "Painters and the Theatre" (53) 1949 Port Sunlight, Lady Lever Art Gallery, "Theatre Exhibition" (69) 1951 London, Tate Gallery, "Pictures from the Garrick Club" (20) 1958 Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, "Painting and Sculpture in the Eighteenth Century" 1975 London, Hayward Gallery, "The Georgian Playhouse" (18) 1992-93 London, Tate Gallery, "The Swagger Portraits" (23)

Engraving history

Jean Simon, mezzotint 31.7x24.7[see PM0133] J.H. Robinson from a drawing by George Clint for "Effigies Poeticae" pub. W. Walker 1 November 1822, line 9.5x8.2 (h. l. only, inscr: "From a picture by Grisoni in the Collection / of Charles Mathews Esq.")[see PM0132]

Sir Novelty Fashion, newly created Lord Foppington, is proud of his extravagant appearance and his prowess with the ladies. Cibber is shown in one of his greatest roles, probably speaking the epilogue to the play; "Gentlemen and ladies, / These people have regal'd you here to-day / (In my opinion) with a saucy play". Later on he says "Did ever highway-man yet bid you stand / With a sweet bawdy snuff-box in his hand?" The reference fits the pose. On the other hand, Lord Foppington may be shown on the completion of his toilet in Act I, scene 3. He objects to the height of the pocket in his coat to the tailor, to the tightness of his shoes to the cobbler and to the padding in his stockings to the hosier. His wig, into which the perruquier has "cramm'd twenty ounces of hair" does not suit him because it reveals too much of his face. The one thing he likes is his steenkirk, or neck-cloth. In fact, he is "in love with it, stap my vitals."
Lord Foppington wears a blue velvet frock coat with red velvet cuffs trimmed with gold braid and gold buttons, and a rust-red waistcoat richly embroidered in gold and trimmed with gold braid. Under his left arm is a dark tricorn hat with extreme points, edged in gold braid, the brim stuffed with feathers.
Cibber created the role of Lord Foppington in Vanbrugh's comedy at Drury Lane on 21 November 1696 and played it with extreme success for the rest of his career. Grisoni arrived in London with John Talman in 1715, and stayed until 1728, so he could have painted the portrait at any point over the thirteen-year-period. However, if there is any basis for L. E. Patmore's statement in “British Galleries of Art” (1824) that the picture belonged to Joseph Addison, then it must have been painted before Addison's death in 1719.
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