Astley’s Amphitheatre. Original aquatint antique print of Astley’s Amphitheatre, dated in the plate 1808, from Ackermann’s Repository of Arts.
Philip Astley (8 January 1742 – 27 January 1814) was an English equestrian, circus owner, and inventor, regarded as being the “father of the modern circus“. The circus industry, as a presenter of an integrated entertainment experience that includes music, domesticated animals, acrobats, and clowns, traces its heritage to Astley’s Amphitheatre, a riding school that Astley founded in London following the success of trick-riding displays given by him and his wife Patty Jones in 1768
Ackermann’s Repository of Arts was an illustrated British periodical published from 1809-1829. Although commonly called Ackermann’s Repository, or simply Ackerman’s, the formal title of the journal was the “Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions, and politics.” This image was part of a monthly publication issued by Ackermann and often ‘bound’ afterwards into the form of a book. Ackermann’s images reflected the social mores of Regency Georgian London illustrating the lives of both rich and poor.