The History of Theater - In One Amazing City

Ricketts' Circus and Art Pantheon - Blog Post and Bibliography for Episode 5

Ricketts' Circus and Art Pantheon - Blog Post and Bibliography for Episode 5

(Both the above and below images are shared by courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia.)

In the image above, the Pennsylvania State House is on the left, the Art Pantheon in the middle, and Oeller's Hotel to the right. This image would have been created from the point of view of someone on the steps of the Chestnut Street Theatre across the way.

Please note: I am aware that I made an error in the podcast episode, when I stated that the US Supreme Court met in the Western wing of Congress Hall, across the street from the Art Pantheon in the late 1790s. In fact the Supreme Court met in the Eastern wing. What is labeled, confusingly, "Court House" in the print below actually housed meetings of the US Congress when Philadelphia was the National Capital. The wing reverted to being the Philadelphia court house after the Federal Government left, which accounts for the confusion.

Ricketts Circus and Art Pantheon 1797


An additional note: the illustration of Ricketts that we used for the episode illustration is another example of how much John Bill Ricketts was modeling his approach to that of Phillip Astley. Quite literally. Below is the print that Ricketts distributed during his travels in America (from the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania), and below that is an earlier print (from the collection of the British Museum) made by artist William Hincks of John Astley (Phillip Astley's son), obviously the inspiration for Ricketts' version:



Selected Bibliography for this Episode:

Custis, George Washington Parke, Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington. Derby & Jackson, New York, 1860, pp. 485-486.

The Memoir of John Durang, 1785-1916. Historical Society of York County and the American Society of Theatre Research, by Pittsburgh Press, 1966.

Miller, Richard C., “The Federal City: 1783-1800” in Philadelphia: A 300-Year History, Russell F. Wiegley, editor. W.W. Norton & Co., 1982.

Moy, James S., John Bill Ricketts’ Circus: 1793-1800. PhD Thesis, Ann Arbor, University Microfilms International, 1977, p. 94.

Pollock, Thomas Clark, The Philadelphia Theatre in the Eighteenth Century. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933.

Toll, Robert C. On With The Show! The First Century of Show Business in America. Oxford University Press, 1976, p. 52.

Wood, William Burke, Personal Recollections of the Stage. Henry Carey Baird, Philadelphia, 1855. p.109