"The First Actresses presents a vivid spectacle of femininity, fashion and theatricality in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain.The exhibition is not only monumental for the oeuvre but has acquired some amazing pieces that have been hidden away in private collections. An erotically-charged portrait of a topless Nell Gwyn, the self-proclaimed "Protestant Whore," has been restored to its original state of toplessness. Also on public display for the first time is the NPG's new acquisition, The Three Witches from Macbeth, which is quite special because now the museum finally has a adult depiction of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire in its collection.
Taking centre stage are the intriguing and notorious female performers of the period whose lives outside of the theatre ranged from royal mistresses to admired writers and businesswomen. The exhibition reveals the many ways in which these early celebrities used portraiture to enhance their reputations, deflect scandal and create their professional identities."
The First Actresses opens tomorrow but I personally will have to patiently bide my time to see the exhibition since I am planning on attending its corresponding conference on 11 November. Juicy details to follow! Who else is planning on going?
Amanda Vickery's Review
Laura Barnett's Review