Mrs Abington as Roxalana in 'The Sultan'.
Mrs Abington (1737 - 1815) was born Frances Barton, the daughter of a soldier, and began her career as a flower girl and a street singer. It was also rumored that she would recite Shakespeare in taverns at the age of 12 and for a short period of time was a prostitute to help her family in the hard times. Later she became a servant to a French milliner. She learned about costume and acquired a knowledge of French which afterward stood her in good stead. Her first appearance on the stage was at the Haymarket in 1755 as Miranda in the play, Busybody. She changed her surname after a failed marriage to her music teacher James Abington. In 1755 she joined the Drury Lane theatre company where she remained for 18 years. in 1782 she left Drury Lane for Covent Garden. She retired from the stage in 1799. She had become not only the one of the leading actresses of her time, but also a fashion icon. Her ambition, personal wit and cleverness won her a distinguished position in society, in spite of her humble origins.
Stipple engraving by JK Sherwin after Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Published Feb 1st 1791.
Old brown 'Hogarth' frame.
Print size: 27cm x 20cm
Frame size: 45cm x 36cm