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Figurine - Figurine of Edmund Kean as Richard III

Figurine of Edmund Kean as Richard III

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (possilby, made)

  • Date:

    ca.1830 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted wax

  • Credit Line:

    Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The great actor Edmund Kean (1878-1833) is represented in this wax figurine as Shakespeare's villainous King Richard III. Kean first appeared in the role in London at Drury Lane Theatre on 12 February 1814. The performance was a revelation and after the first performance the theatre was crammed to capacity for every one of the 68 nights he played Richard that season. He acted with a supreme feel for malevolence, and was always best in duplicitous roles, having no success in comic parts.

Kean was the son of an actress at Drury Lane Theatre and as a child he was paraded as an infant phenomenon, billed as ‘The Celebrated Theatrical Child, Edmund Carey, not eleven years old'. He became a strolling player, dancer and tumbler with Richardson's company and worked in the provinces until he made his first adult stage appearance in 1804. It wasn't until 1814 however, when he appeared as Shylock at Drury Lane Theatre that he made his name and became known as the great but erratic actor described by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge as revealing Shakespeare by 'flashes of lightning'.

Physical description

Wax figurine representing Edmund Kean as Richard III, with a metal sword. He is painted wearing an ermine trimmed burgundy coat with gold slashed puff sleeves at the shoulders revealing blue material beneath, a gold waistcoat and gold and blue slashed knee breeches, cream stockings and brown boots with yellow tops, and gold gauntlets. He stands on a light wood base, grooved for the glass dome, with three ball feet.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (possilby, made)


ca.1830 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted wax


Height: 18.5 cm wax alone, Width: 7.0 cm maximum, across shoulders, Depth: 8.2 cm maximum, heel of left foot to the tip of the sword blade, Height: 25.5 cm of glass dome, Height: 29.5 cm maximum height of dome and base, Height: 4.8 cm of base, including feet

Descriptive line

Wax figurine of the actor Edmund Kean (1787-1833) as Richard lll, the role he first played in London at Drury Lane Theatre in 1814. Wax, c.1830.


Wax; Metal


Entertainment & Leisure; Sculpture


Theatre and Performance Collection

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