Peg Woffington

Christian Friedrich Zincke


Born to an Irish bricklayer and his wife around 1714, Margaret ‘Peg’ Woffington sang on the streets of Dublin as a child before making her stage debut, aged ten, as Polly Peachum in the ‘Beggars’ Opera’. She quickly made a name for herself across Dublin as a talented actress before being lured by the brighter lights of Covent Garden. She excelled in comic roles, playing fashionable women such as the aptly named Lady Betty Modish. Peg’s private life was equally colourful and peppered with love affairs: her paramours included aristocracy as well as fellow actors, David Garrick and Charles Macklin. Unsurprisingly she was less popular with her fellow actresses and their rivalry drove her to return for a time to Dublin where she was peerless. Peg’s final stage role turned out to be Rosalind in ‘As You Like It’ in 1757 when she dramatically collapsed on stage. Her health never recovered and she died three years later. Her final years were spent doing charitable work in her local area.

Painted in enamel on copper, Peg Woffington is shown wearing a mauve dress with a lace collar secured with blue ribbon, a white bonnet fastened beneath her chin. In fine condition with light dust under the glass, the portrait resides in the original silver frame with pierced spiral cresting.

German-born Christian Friedrich Zincke (1683-1767) came to England in 1706 to work alongside and to learn from the Royal enamellist Charles Boit. He later set up his own studio finding success and favour amongst a distinguished clientele that included King George II and his family. Alas, Zincke’s career was cut short by poor and worsening eyesight. His work is well represented in art galleries worldwide.

Item Ref. 4891

Size: framed, 48 x 41mm + cresting

Provenance: Private collection