Unknown British painter after Thomas Gainsborough (British, 1727–88). David Garrick Leaning on a Bust of Shakespeare, after 1769. Oil on canvas, 114.3 x 76 cm. Folger FPb27. Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Folger, 1926.
Some paintings in the Folger collection are valuable as reminders of other works of art rather than as fine paintings in their own right. This is a copy of a portrait of actor David Garrick painted by Thomas Gainsborough, one of the most notable portrait painters working in England in the late eighteenth century.
The town of Stratford-upon-Avon acquired the original portrait in 1769 in order to commemorate the Shakespeare Jubilee that Garrick organized there that year. It hung in the Town Hall, and was destroyed when that building caught fire in 1946.
David Garrick's devotion to Shakespeare and revolutionarily informal acting style come across wordlessly here. Viewers familiar with Westminster Abbey will recognize that Garrick's relaxed pose echoes the life-sized marble statue of William Shakespeare in Poets' Corner.