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Paintings: G0793


Sir Charles Taylor and others (Forty three members in the billiard room of the Garrick Club)


Oil on canvas




Height: 92.5cm
Width: 155cm
height (frame): 131cm
width (frame): 189cm


Presented by Henry O’Neil (the artist), c.1890

Other number

RW/CKA 333
Gift 240


Fitzgerald p. 232; Griffiths p. 294; Derek Hudson ‘Billiards at the Garrick in 1869’, “Connoisseur” (December 1969) p. 274; Alan Hankinson “William Howard Russell” (1982) reproduced.

Members of the Garrick Club in 1869 play a game of pool at the billiard table. Sir Charles Taylor, seated at his coffee table seems to be in control of events as he watches Edward Tredcroft take an awkward long shot. Twelve other members are taking part in the game; the other gentlemen look on. The billiard table is shown in the first floor Morning Room of the new club house, finished only five years before the picture was painted. It is possible that the table was placed in this room, but it seems more likely that O'Neil set the scene in the large downstairs room in order to squeeze in all the portraits. There is no evidence that the billiard table was ever housed anywhere other than the second floor Billiard Room, where it certainly was when Robert Walters produced his catalogue of the pictures in 1908. The Billiard table was moved to the basement during the 2014 conversion of the second floor Library and the Billiard Room remains there today. The members shown in the picture are identified in the list below, along with their dates of joining the Garrick Club. There is a remarkable preponderance of artist members including John Gilbert, William Powell Frith, Frederick Leighton, Alfred Elmore, Val Prinsep, Thomas Creswick, John Millais, and O'Neil himself. The principal literary members shown are Trollope and Charles Reade, and O'Neil includes Gilbert's posthumous portrait of Thackeray (G0805) as a tribute to another recently deceased literary member.
O'Neil's choice of pictures is interesting, and probably does not relate to the arrangement of the pictures in the Morning Room in 1869. Fifteen pictures or parts of pictures are shown, some of them indecipherable. On the wall to the left there are four, including, on either side of the score-board, Henry Wyndham Phillips's portrait of Fanny Stirling as Peg Woffington (G0778) and Mercier's fancy picture, then regarded as a portrait of Peg Woffington herself (G0847). Above the Mercier is the Zoffany head of David Garrick (G0249). The large picture in the centre of the long wall on the right is the portrait of a lady in masquerade costume called Mrs Bracegirdle (G0088). To the right of it is the Thackeray portrait, and to the right of that De Wilde's portrait of Charles Mathews as Somno (G0469). Above Thackeray is De Wilde's portrait of Charles Lee Lewes as Bobadil (G0421), and to the right of that an unidentified male figure in a red cloak. On the top row to the right are two more De Wildes, Moody as Commodore Flip (G0610) and a female full-length. Below Bobadil is an unidentified male half-length in a red jacket, and below the female portrait is what appears to be an enlarged version of Thomas Carrick's miniature of William Farren the Younger (G0212). The Farren portrait, like that of Thackeray, may be intended as a sort of memorial to the famous actor, who was the grand old man of the British theatre by the time he died in 1861, shortly after O'Neil became a member of the Garrick. This curious enlargement illustrates the fact that O'Neil altered the proportions of the pictures to fit the wall-space.
[List of members shown and years they became members of the Garrick Club, shown from b.l. then clockwise: 1: Sir Charles Taylor Bt. 1847; 2: Captain Synge C. E. 1855; 3: James Christie 1851; 4: Henry Nelson O'Neil, A. R. A. 1860; 5: Captain the Hon Charles William White, M. P. 1864; 6: (Sir) Maurice James O'Connell (or Morgan John O'Connell) 1864; 7: Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Bateson, C. V. O. 1862; 8: Anthony Trollope 1862; 9: James Clay, M. P. 1866; 10: Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Lambton, C. B. 1854; 11: T. H. Powell 1862; 12: Edward Tredcroft 1849; 13: Charles T. Hebbert 1847; 14: (Sir) James Cornelius O'Dowd, C. B. 1854; 15: (Sir) William Howard Russell, LL. D.,C. V. O. 1853; 16: Major-General George Thomas Conolly Napier, C. B. 1868; 17: Henry William George Paget, 3rd Marquess of Anglesey 1845; 18: Henry King 1847; 19: E. A. Breedon 1868; 20: Edward Crabb 1853; 21: Sir John Gilbert, (R. A.) 1852; 22: William Powell Frith, R. A. 1864; 23: Shirley Brooks 1850; 24: Arthur Warre 1856;
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