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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams to Auction James Ferguson Portrait of Dublin Actress Peg Woffington

A portrait miniature of the 18th century actress Margaret “Peg” Woffington by the artist James Ferguson, is one of the highlights of the Fine Portrait Miniatures sale on the 25th May at Bonhams, Knightsbridge and is estimated to sell for £1,500- 2,500.

Peg Woffington was born in Dublin and began her career as a street singer before making her stage debut at ten years of age as Polly Peachum in the ‘Beggars’ Opera’. She quickly make a name for herself as an actress across Dublin until 1740, when her success as Sir Harry Wildair in ‘The Constant Couple’ led to her London debut in Covent Garden. There she met and fell in love with the actor, David Garrick.

She lived openly with Garrick, the foremost actor of his day, but her other love affairs (including liaisons with Edward Bligh, 2nd Earl of Darnley and the MP, Charles Hanbury Williams) were numerous and notorious. Woffington also managed to educate her sister Mary and pensioned their mother.

However, Woffington left Garrick in 1744 and moved to Teddington. On the 3rd May 1757, she was playing the part of Rosalind in ‘As You Like It’ when she collapsed on stage. Her illness prevented her from acting for the rest of her life but she used the time to build and endow some almshouses in Teddington.

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