Cruikshank, Rehearsal

George Cruikshank, The Rehearsal or the Baron and the Elephant [detail] (1 January 1812). This print satirizes Covent Garden’s engagement of the elephant, Chunee. In the image, Chunee rampages across a stage and smashes under his left foot several books and a bust of Shakespeare. Riding astride Chunee is John Philip Kemble, upon whose shoulders sits a little person emptying out a bag of money into a tambourine held by Kemble. Draped over the elephant’s saddle is a scroll that reads, “Royal / Menagerie / Covent Garden / This Evening perford / The Murder / of Shakespeare / a Tragedy / with the Farce of / Joh Bull / in Extacy / Principal / Performers / Two Bears / An Ass &c.” Among numerous other figures is Richard Brinsley Sheridan at the left of the image, dressed as Harlequin, sitting atop a cask inscribed “Whitbreds Stale” and extending a mug of “Froth” to Samuel Whitbread, who, in turn, kicks a sailor and holds a paper that says, “A Guinea Pr Week for Native Talent”; with his left hand, he pours coins into a bag, inscribed “Treasury,” held by Sheridan. Sarah Siddons appears on the far right of the image, departing from the stage with bags of money at her waist. A playbill to her left states, “Theatre Royal Covent Garden—Positively the last Season of Mrs Siddon[s].” Courtesy of the British Museum.