By Shearer West, Mark Leonard, Robyn Asleson, Shelley Bennett
Popular for her majestic attractiveness and impassioned performances, the English actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) revolutionized the aesthetics of eighteenth-century theater whereas inventing a posh public character to advertise her status. Her aptitude for self-presentation was once matched via the showmanship of the various artists who portrayed her. the following 3 vigorous essays--by Robyn Asleson, Shelley Bennett, Mark Leonard, and Shearer West--explore Siddons's lifestyles and profession, in addition to her relationships with a couple of artists. impressive between them used to be Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose masterpiece Sarah Siddons because the Tragic Muse turned an icon of this nice actress on the top of her profession. This lavish quantity additionally brings jointly fifty-five different photos of Siddons together with works via Thomas Gainsborough, George Romney, Thomas Lawrence, and Gilbert Stuart.
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Extra resources for A Passion For Performance: Sarah Siddons and Her Portraitists
Letter of 13 March 1785 in Percy Fitzgerald, The 87. Kembles, 2 vols. (London: Tinsley, 1871), I: 2l5~ 16. See Boaden, Memoirs of Mrs. Siddons, 2: 336; Knapp, Kemble)," ca. 70-72, Folger Shakespeare Artist's Love Story, I75~7^ (quoting a letter from Siddons to Mrs. G. which she refers to William Siddons's "coldness and Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France reserve"). Mrs. Thrale thought her family did not appreciate her and was appalled to discover that Sid- of Mrs. Inchbald's British Theatre (annotated by 71.
88. For a full and clear explanation of the cause and effect of the scandal, which resulted from Siddons's see also the illustrations and discussion in Henry 75- 39 Siddons, Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture and Action overcommitment and a series of unfortunate mis- (London: Richard Phillips, 1807). For the anecdote about her decision to begin sculpt- understandings, see Campbell, Siddons, I: 27^; and ing, see Campbell, Siddons, 2,: 166 — 67. For technical problems she encountered, see Sally Siddons to Manvell, Siddons, 107-9.
She began modeling in clay in 1789, and although she never gained an easy skill with sculpture, she worked hard at it, and her artistic development was assisted by her friendship with the sculptor Anne Seymour Damer. 75 She also took an active interest in visual art, and, particularly after her retirement, cultivated the role of an amateur art critic. 76 Siddons no doubt encouraged the various anecdotes of her biographers that blur the distinction between her ability as an art critic and her role as a living work of art.