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Pepys and Nell Gwynne

Pepys and Nell Gwynne

Alternative:Pepys' Introduction to Nell Gwynne
Artist: Augustus Leopold Egg (English, 1816 - 1863)
Date: 1851
Medium: oil on canvas
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of Lewis Gruber, 1962
Keywords and Associated Locations:
Object number: 228.23P
Description
Nell Gwyn (or Gwynn) (1650-1687) was among the first generation of female actresses in English theater. (Female parts had been played by male actors prior.) Another novelty of the time was the introduction of set pieces to break up the space and impart a sense of depth. The oblique angles in Egg’s behind the scenes setting show us the curtain (far left), back drops (middle) and flats (right), cut to the shapes of painted foliage. Egg painted the set elements to look like painted two-dimensional cloth and to stand out as purposely flat next to the more three-dimensional figures. Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), Naval Administrator and Member of Congress, kisses the actress as they are introduced by another actress, Mary Knipp (or Knep), backstage at a performance of the play “The Humorous Lieutenant.” Mrs. Pepys stands with her back to the viewer. Other actresses and actors participate in private intrigues and dramas around the central figures.
Not on view