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John Philip Kemble (1757-1823), was one of the twelve children of the strolling actor-manager Roger Kemble, all of whom took to the stage. In preparation for a career in the Church, John Philip was educated at a Jesuit college in Douai in northern France from 1771 until 1775, but when he returned he embarked upon a stage career, possibly influenced by the success of his elder sister, Sarah Siddons.
J.P. Kemble went on to become a stately, formal actor best-known for his interpretation of heavily dramatic roles including Hamlet, Brutus, Cato, Rolla and Coriolanus. He was never suited for comedy and it was said of him that even in his most convivial moods he was 'solemn and funereal'. He managed both the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and Covent Garden where he caused the O.P. Riots by raising the price of admission to pay for rebuilding after the fire of 1808. He made several important reforms at Drury Lane Theatre, both in management and in costumes and scenery, and controversially introduced spectacular shows there featuring live animals and aquatic effects. His years of management were not a financial success and he died in Lausanne.
Head and shoulders lithograph of John Philip Kemble (1757-1823) in walnut vaneered frame with a gold-painted fillet. He is seated at an angle, looking lightly to his right, wearing a shirt with a large white collar and a wide sash or cloak across his left shoulder.
Height: 20.0 cm of frame, Width: 18.2 cm of frame, Height: 12.2 cm of reveal, Width: 10.3 cm of reveal
Lithograph of John Philip Kemble (1757-1823), by James Heath, pub. 1799, after George Chinnery (1774-1852).
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