Print

circa 1884 (drawn)

May, Phil

Height: 49.2 cm, Width: 30.4 cm

1224-2014 T&P

Full length portrait showing the actor/manager Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) as Shylock in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. The sketch is signed by the artist Phil May (1864–1903) in the bottom left hand corner. It is not dated, but is likely to have been drawn in circa 1880

Full length portrait showing the actor/manager Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) as Shylock in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. The sketch is signed by the artist Phil May (1864–1903) in the bottom left hand corner. It is a hand coloured sketch which shows details of the costume, including the bright scarf Irving used as a sash around his waist.

Full length portrait showing the actor/manager Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) as Shylock in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. The sketch is signed by the artist Phil May (1864–1903) in the bottom left hand corner. It is not dated, but is likely to have been drawn in circa 1880. 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. Irving first produced The Merchant of Venice in 1879, inspired by a Mediterranean cruise during which he visited Venice and North Africa. His portrayal of Shylock was sympathetic and intellectual, unlike the variously comic or villainous ones of preceding eras. The initial production ran for 250 performances, and it remained in Irving’s repertory of plays until his death in 1905.

Gabrielle Enthoven Collection

Location: In Storage

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