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A theatre had stood on this site since the late 17th century and at the time of this print business was flourishing. This aquatint and etching shows Sadler's Wells theatre in its early nineteenth-century incarnation. On the stage is a marine drama is being acted out. Marine Drama  was  a specialty of Sadlers Wells Theatre at the time and on stage is installed an enormous water tank filled from the nearby New River water.   Such sea-faring dramas were particularly popular during the Napoleonic wars. 


The theatre had a reputation for bawdiness and loud, rowdy audiences. As Dickens put it: “The theatre was in the condition of being entirely delivered over to as ruffianly an audience as London could shake together" The actor Edmund Kean and the great clown Grimaldi both appeared on stage and you were as likely to see fights in the auditorium as on the stage. 


Microcosm of London collection of prints

The print was published in Ackermann's Microcosm of London, a three-volume work was published between 1808 and 1810. The volumes offer a lively insight into London life of the Regency period. The architectural draughtsman Auguste Charles Pugin  (father of the more famous Pugin, architect of the Palace of Westminster) drew the buildings and backgrounds whilst the lively figures were executed by Thomas Rowlandson, caricaturist and illustrator. The watercolours would then be engraved by a team of engravers including John Bluck, Joseph Constantine Stadler, Thomas Sunderland, John Hill and Richard Bankes Harraden, anonymous hand-colourists and authors William Henry Pyne and William Combe. 



Sadler's Wells Theatre, Auguste Charles Pugin & Thomas Rowlandson Antique Print

SKU: 1151
  • Item Number: 1151
    Title: Sadler's Wells Theatre
    Artist: Auguste Charles Pugin & Thomas Rowlandson
    Engraver: John Bluck
    Medium: Aquatint with hand-colouring
    Date: 1807
    Publisher: Rudolph Ackermann in  Microcosm of London

    Framed size (h x w): 348 x 392

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