Attendance United Kingdom

There’s always a risk

Single work shows don't always pay off

General Tom Thumb

It was with high hopes that Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846) hired London’s Egyptian Hall in 1846 to display his latest vast canvas. But rather than pay to see The Banish­ment of Aristides, around 1846, crowds flocked to see General Tom Thumb (above), who was appearing at the same Piccadilly venue. The 31-inch-high American made the then enormous sum of £600 in a week, whereas Haydon’s takings were a paltry seven pounds and 13 shillings. Haydon’s single-show exhibition of Christ’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem, 1814-20, had been a hit in 1820, although it was overshadowed by Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa, 1818-19, on show in a room nearby. Riah Pryor

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