1828 (made)

Height: 13.5 cm, Diameter: 6.0 cm of base

S.327-1984 T&P

Glazed earthenware figurine of Madam Vestris as the Broom Girl, Staffordshire, 1828.

Polychromed glazed earthenware figuine of Madam Vestris as the broom girl, standing with her left hand behind her, her right hand (which originally held a broom) extended to the front. She is modelled wearing a green bodice and a cream skirt decorated with a purple floral motif, orange shoes and a pink hat over a white kerchief.

18th and19th centuries theatrical stars were often celebrated in paintings, prints, dawings, sculptures and ceramics. Small figurines of performers proved lucrative for ceramic firms such as Derby, one of the earliest English porcelain factories, which was established by the French Huguenot Andrew Planche in the mid-1740s. Porcelain manufacturers copied engravings of the most popular performers for small decorative ceramics such as this figurine of Madam Vestris as the Broom Girl, which originally included a twig broom. The actress, singer and theatre manager Lucia Elizabeth Vestris (1797-1865), was born in London Elizabeth Bartolozzi. Aged sixteen she married the dancer Armand Vestris and although they separated, she kept his name professionally. She could have specialised in opera but instead worked in burlesque and comedy roles, making her earliest success in 1820 in a burlesque or parody of Mozart's Don Giovanni called Giovanni In London. She made a name for herself in Paris and London, was famous for her 'breeches' roles, portraying men and revealing her well-shaped and much praised legs, and made a huge hit with The Broom Girl! which she first sang at the Haymarket Theatre in 1826. She took over the Olympic Theatre in 1830, and after her marriage to Charles Matthews in 1838 also managed Covent Garden and the Lyceum Theatres for some time.

Madam Vestris first sang her broom girl song, arranged for her by Alexander Lee, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 18 September 1826. It was introduced into the farce The Hundred Pound Note<>i> by Richard Brinsley Peake at Covent Garden the following year.

Location: In Storage

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