Princess Charlotte & Prince Leopold at Covent Garden

George Dawe (1781 - 1829)
William Thomas Fry (1789 - 1843)

Hand-coloured engraving

published 8 April 1818
  • About the work

    This engraving depicts Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales (1796–1817) and Prince Leopold (1790–1865), future king of Belgians from 1831, seated in their box at Covent Garden Theatre. Prince Leopold holds a libretto, containing the text of the performance, while Princess Charlotte is turned to face him and wears a paisley shawl draped over one shoulder and a wreath of roses on her head. The couple is depicted on a particular occasion: watching ‘Henry VIII’ performed for the benefit of the Theatrical Fund on Saturday 29 June 1817. The cast included Sarah Siddons (1755–1831), the best known tragedienne-actress of the 18th century. 

    The engraving was not issued until 6 April 1818, after the Princess's tragic death following the delivery of a stillborn son. On 22 May 1818, an advertisement in the ‘Morning Post’ for the engraving after Dawe’s full-length portrait of Charlotte in Russian costume also advertised:

    ‘…a highly-finished Chalk Engraving of their Royal Highnesses the Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold, in their Box at the Theatre, engraved from the original Painting by George Dawe’.

  • About the artist
    History and portrait painter George Dawe was born in London, the son of mezzotinter Philip Dawe. His younger brothers, Henry Edward and James Philip, and sister, Mary Margaret, all became artists. Having been instructed in the art of engraving by his father, George turned to painting. In 1819 he went to Russia, where he painted some four hundred portraits of the chiefs of the Russian army, who (with the help of the Russian winter) had vanquished Napoleon, for the Emperor. Dawe became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1809 and a Royal Academician in 1814. He did not live to enjoy the considerable sum he earned as a result of his time in Russia; dying only six weeks after his return to England in 1829. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.
    Nothing is known of the early life of William Thomas Fry. He was one of the first engravers to experiment with steel plates and encouraged dialogue on improving plate design. His stipple portrait of the Reverend William Naylor was one of the first engravings published using decarbonized steel plates designed by engraver Charles Warren. Fry also contributed to Rudolph Ackermann’s ‘Forget-me-not’ (1825), the first annual to use steel plates. He exhibited at the Society of Artists on Suffolk Street (1824-30) and produced eleven plates for the ‘National Gallery of Pictures of Great Masters’ (1836). Most of his works are portraits in stipple, but he also made aquatint and lithographic prints. He died, apparently unmarried, in London, aged c.54.
  • Explore
    Charlotte Augusta, Princess of WalesLeopold I
    England, London
    Materials & Techniques
    hand-coloured engraving
  • Details
    Princess Charlotte & Prince Leopold at Covent Garden
    published 8 April 1818
    Hand-coloured engraving
    Purchased from Grosvenor Prints, November 1983
    GAC number