August 8th, 2017

Henry Irving's Death Mask

Henry Irving was to the Victorian era what Lawrence Olivier was to the mid-20th century- the acknowledged head of the theatrical profession. As Olivier was the first actor to be made a peer so Irving was the first to be knighted. His productions at the Lyceum were noted for their beauty and spectacle- as if straining after the not-yet-existing condition of cinema- and also for their scholarship and intelligence. He was the definitive Hamlet, Shylock and Macbeth of his generation.

This death mask comes from the collection of theatrical knick-knackery belonging to Ellen Terry- his leading lady, muse and sometime lover...

What a strange and beautiful face it is...