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Stephen Kemble ('Hamlet in Scotland')

1 of 4 portraits of Stephen Kemble

Stephen Kemble ('Hamlet in Scotland'), by and published by Robert Dighton, published 6 December 1794 - NPG D10685 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Stephen Kemble ('Hamlet in Scotland')

by and published by Robert Dighton
hand-coloured etching, published 6 December 1794
8 7/8 in. x 6 1/2 in. (225 mm x 164 mm) plate size; 10 1/8 in. x 7 7/8 in. (256 mm x 200 mm) paper size
Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries and the Pilgrim Trust, 1966
Reference Collection
NPG D10685


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Artistback to top

  • Robert Dighton (1751-1814), Portrait painter, caricaturist and actor. Artist associated with 272 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.

This portraitback to top

After feuds over tenancy, and much criticism, Kemble finally took over the management of the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh, opening with a production of Hamlet in January 1794; his brother John playing the lead role. Stephen Kemble's large girth is the focus of attention here; he eventually weighed over eighteen stone despite being only five feet nine inches tall.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D13335: Stephen Kemble ('Hamlet in Scotland') (from same plate)
  • NPG D13401: Stephen Kemble ('Hamlet in Scotland') (from same plate)

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Events of 1794back to top

Current affairs

Treason Trials against John Horne Tooke, Thomas Hardy and John Thelwall take place amidst fears of domestic revolution. Their acquittal marks the most dramatic victory of the cause. Leader of the Opposition, Charles James Fox's Libel Bill secures the landmark right of trial by jury for the accused.

Art and science

Edward Jenner discovers the smallpox inoculation after realising that those who worked with cattle and caught cowpox developed immunity. Drury Lane Theatre re-opens under the management of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. In competition with the Covent Garden Theatre it featured a new pit and boxes designed by architect Henry Holland.

International

Maximilien Robespierre, member of the French dictatorial Committee of Public Safety is arrested and executed as part of a conspiracy by enemies who disliked his anti-extremist stance and zeal for social reform. Campaign in the Low Countries under the Duke of York. Allies are defeated and French reoccupy Brussels. British troops retreat to Holland.

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