After Benjamin Vandergucht. [Mr Jonston in the Character of Gibby in the Wonder.] London: J. Saunders, December 1773. Proof before letters. Mezzotint by Joseph I. Saunders. 13 x 10 5/8. Trimmed to image top and sides, as issued. Very good condition.
A superb British mezzotint of actor John Johnston dressed up a Gibby from the play “The Wonder. A Woman Keeps a Secret.” The print was made by British mezzotinter, Jospeh I. Saunders, who also published the print. This is a proof before letters.
Johnston played Gibby in his first speaking role in 1756, at the Theater Royal in Drury Lane, London, in a revival of “The Wonder”–a 1714 comedy by Susanna Centlivre–in which David Garrick played Don Felix. While Johnston played the character for many years, he never achieved renown and indeed his role as Gibby was not particularly well received. The Theatrical Review, in 1772, said his performance was “so contemptible, as to raise critical indignation.” There was another actor with the same last name, Alexander Johnston, who also worked at Drury Lane about this time and he is sometimes identified as the sitter, though this is incorrect. John Johnston did, in 1766, become the secretary of the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund.