- Place of origin:
- Credit Line:
Given by the Royal Shakespeare Company
- Museum number:
S.2732:1 to 3-2010
- Gallery location:
Henry Irving (1838-1905) wore this costume as Louis dei Franchi in Act II of The Corsican Brothers by Dion Boucicault (1820–1890). Adapted by Boucicault in 1852 from Alexandre Dumas’ novel, this play involved the leading actor playing both the twin brothers Fabien and Louis dei Franchi.
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 specialised in spectacularly staged productions with large casts of performers. He commissioned designers and composers to create appropriate scenery, costume and incidental music, played by a full orchestra. Although electric lighting was available from the 1880s, Irving preferred the softer effects of gas, with lime light to focus attention at key points in the play. Irving toured complete productions outside London, taking the full company, scenery and costumes throughout the United Kingdom and across the United States and Canada. The development of the railway system made his the first generation able to achieve this level of touring productions.
Place of Origin
Weight: 3.1 kg
Theatrical ensemble of coat and trousers worn by Henry Irving as Louis dei Franchi in 'The Corsican Brothers', 1880, at the Lyceum under Irving's management.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Holmes, Martin. Stage Costumes and Accessories in the London Museum. London : HMSO, 1968. Catalogue entry 84.
Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes
Theatre and Performance Collection