MT: hand colored etching on paper, matted and glazed within gilt wooden frame (17x10 / F:43x33x2)
TX: printed lower center of border <CRABTREE>, printed lower right of paper <The 'School for Scandal': Line reproduction of one / of the hand-colored etchings by René Ben Sussan / which in the volume itself will be hand-printed / from the original plates. Printed in England.>
CM: Often called the best comedy of manners in English, and one of the most produced of all theatre classics, this delightful play brilliantly displays Richard Brinsley Sheridan's (1751-1816) mastery of the mechanics of stage comedy, his flair for witty dialogue, and his obvious delight in skewering the affectation and pretentiousness of aristocratic Londoners of the 1770s.
The School for Scandal was a pleasant surprise. We meet devious and unscrupulous characters, not the ragtag pickpockets found in later stories by Dickens, but self-centered members of the leisure class in London. The cast includes the appropriately named Lady Sneerwell, Mr. Snake, Mr. Crabtree, Sir Benjamin Backbite, Mrs. Candour, and the superficial Mr. Surface - individuals all too capable of undermining the most refined and honest reputations with innuendoes and ingenious fabrications.
Sheridan's phrase "school for scandal" is a grand metaphor for the gossipy London society of the late 1770s, and the longevity of the play that bears it as its title attests to its relevance in any place and time. Sheridan captures the inherent drama and humor in the truism that people are always talking about other people behind their backs and uses it as a foundation on which to devise a plot of intrigue.