Drawing

1893 (drawn)

Forestier

Length: 14.5 cm, Width: 15.5 cm

S.372-2011 T&P

Painted illustration in tones of grey, black and white, created for publication in an illustrated magazine or newspaper. It shows the actor Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) in the title role of Becket by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) at the Lyceum Theatre. It was painted by Sir Amédée Forestier (1854 – 1930) and is signed with his initials. Given by Sir William Ingram in 1914.

Painted illustration in tones of grey, black and white, created for publication in an illustrated magazine or newspaper. It shows the actor Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) in the title role of <i>Becket </i>by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) at the Lyceum Theatre. The image depicts the interior of the cathedral with Irving, wearing the tonsured wig and robes which marks him out as the Archbishop, standing at the top of a short slight and stairs. His arms are upraised and he is surrounded by a group of armed soldiers, one of which is advancing towards him, brandishing his sword. The image was painted by Sir Amédée Forestier (1854 – 1930) and is signed with his name in the bottom left hand corner.

This painted illustration shows the actor Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) in the title role of <i>Becket </i>by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) at the Lyceum Theatre. The image was painted by Sir Amédée Forestier (1854 – 1930) and is signed with his name in the bottom left hand corner. Irving became a professional actor in 1856, and learned his trade in regional theatres until 1866, when he came to London. He joined the Lyceum Theatre company under the management of H. L. Bateman in 1871, winning great acclaim that year for his psychologically developed characterisation of the guilt-ridden inn-keeper Mathias in Leopold Lewis’s melodrama The Bells. He took on the responsibilities of ‘actor-manager’ in 1878 when he assumed the management of the Lyceum, and remained there until 1902, enjoying star status with his leading lady Ellen Terry (1847-1928). Irving produced a diverse range of old and new plays at the Lyceum, including Shakespeare, historical drama, and literary adaptations. His tireless work to elevate the status of the theatrical profession was rewarded in 1895 when he became the first actor ever to receive a knighthood for services to the Theatre. The events of this play focus on the historical figure of Thomas Becket (1118-1170) during his time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended with his murder. The success of Irving's production led him to keep it in his repertory of plays, and it was the last role he performed before his death. His last words on stage were those of the dying Becket, saying "Into thy hands, O Lord, into thy hands". Later that evening Irving collapsed and died in the entrance hall of the Midland Hotel in Bradford. Sir Amédée Forestier (1854 – 1930) was an Anglo-French artist and illustrator. He began working for the Illustrated London News in 1882 and became known for his attention to detail and historical illustrations. This item is one of several theatrical drawings from a collection of sketches commissioned from contemporary artists to be printed in illustrated magazines. The collection was donated to the museum by Sir William James Ingram in 1914.

Sir William Ingram (27 October 1847 – 18 December 1924) was a Liberal politician who was elected to, and sat, in the House of Commons on three occassions between 1878 and 1895. He was also the Managing Director of The Illustrated London News from the late 1870s until 1900 and became the proprietor of a number of additional publications including The Sketch and The English Illustrated Magazine. The Illustrated London News was the world's first illustrated weekly newspaper. Founded by Sir William Ingram’s father, Herbert Ingram, in 1842 the first edition was sold on 14th May 1842 at a cost of sixpence per copy. Building from an original circulation of 26,000 to in excess of 300,000 at its peak, The Illustrated London News remained in print until 2003 and commissioned illustrations from many of the leading artists of the late nineteenth century. Photographs were used alongside illustrations from the late 19th century onwards but illustrations were a major feature of paper until after the end of the First World War.

Given by Sir William Ingram

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website