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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers how the image of the actor was culturally reconfigured, commodified and metamorphosed into porcelain and the impact of changing patterns of cultural production and consumption on the exchange value and reproduction of images. Countering Walter Benjamin’s classic account of the diminution of aura through mechanical reproduction, it argues that porcelain figures of actors, in conjunction with paintings and the print media, enhanced and reified the public image of leading actors such as Garrick, Quin and Kemble. Catering to the growing interest in public personalities and the stage and the passion for ceramics, by the early 1750s English factories, notably Bow, were producing small-scale statuettes of actors in an intimate, readily consumable form, bridging the gap between spectator and stage. The figure of Garrick as Richard III both attests to his charismatic acting and domesticates Shakespeare’s bloody tyrant by translating him into fragile but durable porcelain.

Keywords: actor, celebrity culture, commodification, Garrick, porcelain, Richard III.

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