Kerslake and Dixon (makers)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Museum number:
S.2736:1 to 5-2010
- Gallery location:
Henry Irving (1838-1905) wore this costume when playing the role of Mathias in the The Bells, by Leopold Lewis (1828- 1890) in 1871. Irving's psychologically developed characterisation of the guilt-ridden inn-keeper brought him critical praise and lasting fame. His public never tired of seeing him perform this role, and so he kept The Bells in his repertory of plays up to his final tour, which ended with his death in Bradford.
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, taking on the responsibilities of 'actor-manager' in 1878 when he took over the lease of the theatre, 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.
[frock coat] Light brown (or red/brown) frock coat. Deliberately darned to suggest wearing.
[waistcoat] Velvet waistcoat, brown and yellow vertical stripes.
[breeches] Brown corduroy breeches.
[shoe] Brown leather slip on shoe (left), with plain steel buckle. Leather soles and uppers. 7 small nails on the underside of the heel of both shoes placed in a crescent shaped pattern on the outside edge.
[shoe] Brown leather slip on shoe (right), with plain steel buckle. Leather soles and uppers. 7 small nails on the underside of the heel of both shoes placed in a crescent shaped pattern on the outside edge.
Kerslake and Dixon (makers)
Materials and Techniques
[frock coat] Length: 114 cm maximum length, Width: 39 cm measured across shoulders, Length: 64 cm length of sleeve
[waistcoat] Length: 77 cm maximum, Width: 48 cm chest width, Width: 35 cm measured at neck
[breeches] Length: 89 cm maximum length, Width: 43 cm measured at waist
[shoe] Length: 29.3 cm, Width: 8.2 cm Widest point
[shoe] Length: 29.3 cm As for left hand shoe, Width: 8.2 cm
Object history note
Museum of London note: 'The crimson rosette mentioned in Holmes 24 is now missing (April 2008).'
[waistcoat] Museum of London note: 'Was replaced by 38.19/9 (Holmes 31) when it grew threadbare.'
Theatrical costume of coat, waistcoat, breeches and shoes, worn by Henry Irving as Mathias in 'The Bells' by Leopold Lewis, 1871 at the Lyceum under the Batemans' management.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Holmes, Martin. Stage Costumes and Accessories in the London Museum. London : HMSO, 1968. Catalogue entry 24.
Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes