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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (drawn)

  • Date:

    ca.1895 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bryan, Alfred, born 1852 - died 1899 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink on card

  • Credit Line:

    Gabrielle Enthoven Collection

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This caricature by Alfred Bryan (1852-1899), shows actor-manager Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) bestowing a knighthood on his great friend, the actor-manager J.L. Toole (1830–1906). On the back of Toole's armour is an advertisement for the comedy Thoroughbred at Toole's Theatre, which played there in 1895. Toole's was the first London theatre to be named after an actor. He took over the management of the Folly Theatre in 1879 and renamed it Toole's in 1882.

Sir Henry Irving was one of the leading actors of the late 19th century. He became manager of the Lyceum Theatre in 1878 and continued to run the theatre until his death in 1905. In 1895 he became the first actor to be knighted for services to the theatre. Many people considered comic actors as worthy of knighthoods as tragedians, but Toole never received one, hence perhaps this caricature by Alfred Bryan showing Toole's esteem by the first great actor-manager Irving.

Physical description

Pen and ink sketch of the actor/manager Sir Henry Irving dressed in armour, bestowing a knighthood upon another armoured figure who is kneeling at his feet. The kneeling figure has the words 'TOOLES THEATRE / THOROUGHBRED / EVERY EVENING' on the back of his armour.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (drawn)


ca.1895 (drawn)


Bryan, Alfred, born 1852 - died 1899 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink on card

Marks and inscriptions

Artist's initials in ink, lower right hand corner

'Sir Irving & Sir Toole. CB.'
Handwritten annotation in pencil, upper left hand corner

'Sir H. Irving & Toole'
Handwritten annotation in pencil on reverse


Height: 24.7 cm, Width: 12.4 cm

Descriptive line

Caricature of the actor-manager Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) knighting the actor-manager J.L. Toole, ca.1895. Pen, ink and watercolour by Alfred Bryan (1852-1899)


Card; Ink


Drawing (image-making)


Entertainment & Leisure; Drawings


Theatre and Performance Collection

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