N05853 An Exact Representation of the Game of Cricket c. 1760
Oil on canvas 489×591 (19 1/4×23 1/4)
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1948
PROVENANCE ...; T. Grange, from whom bt 1948
EXHIBITED Two Centuries of Cricket Art, Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield 1955 (2, as ‘attributed to L.P. Boitard’)
This is one of several versions in oil, probably by different hands, which are based on a line-engraving lettered (above) with the title ‘An Exact Representation of the Game of Cricket’ and (below) ‘H. Roberts sculp. from a curious drawing made after the life by L.P. Boitard’, published by John Bowles in several states, one dated 1743 (repr. Neville Cardus and John Arlott, The Noblest Game, 1969, pl.1).
Boitard's ‘curious drawing’ is now untraced, but was probably in pen and ink, with or without watercolour (like all his known work?). A larger oil version (622×990, 24 1/2×38 3/4), in the collection of the Marylebone Cricket Club (fig.2), appears to correspond in all details with the engraving; it bears the initials ‘R.H.’ lower left (? the reversed initials of H. Roberts, the engraver), and may be the first version in oil. The Tate Gallery picture differs from the engraving and the MCC version in such details as the colours of dress, the pose of the two men seated on the grass in the upper centre, keeping the score, where the right-hand figure turns his head away towards the fielders instead of concentrating on his tally-stick, and in the omission of one group of four spectators in the background on the left. Versions in oil have also been reported in private collections in England and in the USA (the latter having a wooded landscape background). One state of the engraving of ‘An Exact Representation of the Game of Cricket’ (fig.3) is stated by Cardus and Arlott to be dedicated ‘to all Gentlemen Lovers of that Diversion’; perhaps there was an enthusiastic market among them for versions in oil, a market probably stimulated by the publication in 1744 of the first ‘Laws of Cricket’ (quoted in Cardus and Arlott, p.12). The wicket depicted here has only two stumps. The third stump was added to the game in 1744.
N05853 was for some years around 1960 listed in the Tate Gallery's concise catalogues as by W.R. Coates, and reproduced as a postcard with this attribution, though no record survives to explain how this evident mistake was made.
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988