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Photograph - Guy Little Theatrical Photograph

Guy Little Theatrical Photograph

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    London (photographed)

  • Date:

    1888 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Window & Grove (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sepia photograph on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Guy Little

  • Museum number:

    S.133:441-2007

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Photograph of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Lyceum Theatre, 1888. Guy Little Collection.

This photograph comes from a large collection of ‘cartes de visite’ and ‘cabinet cards’ removed from their backings and mounted in albums by Guy Tristram Little (d.1953) who bequeathed them to the V&A. A collector of greetings cards, games and photographs, Guy Little was a partner in the legal firm Messrs Milles Jennings White & Foster, and the solicitor and executor of Mrs. Gabrielle Enthoven, whose theatrical collection formed the basis of the Theatre Collections at the V&A.

Photography was a novel and exciting development in Victorian days. Most actors and actresses had studio photographs taken, in everyday dress or theatrical costume, for ‘cartes de visite’, and later ‘cabinet cards’. Both were albumen prints made from glass negatives, attached to stiff card backing printed with the photographer’s name. ‘Cartes de visite’, the size of formal visiting cards, were patented in 1854 and produced in their millions during the 1860s when it became fashionable to collect them. Their subjects included scenic views, tourist attractions and works of art, as well as portraits. They were superseded in the late 1870s by the larger and sturdier ‘cabinet cards’ whose popularity waned in turn during the 1890s in favour of postcards and studio portraits.

The photograph shows Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Lady Macbeth. By the time she played the part at the Lyceum Theatre, opposite Henry Irving, she had been on the stage for over 30 years and was well known for her Shakespearean roles. Audiences, however, associated her with lighter and more charming characters and in letters written at the time Terry expressed doubts about her ability to play Lady Macbeth. When the reviews appeared, she wrote excitedly to her daughter Edie Craig: ‘It is a great success and I am a great success!! Which amazes me. For never did I think I should be let down so easily. Some people hate me in it – some (Henry amongst them) think it my best part – and the critics differ, or discuss it hotly, which in itself is my best success of all!!! (Ellen Terry Archive THM/384/1/4).

Physical description

Sepia photograph of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at the Lyceum Theatre.

Place of Origin

London (photographed)

Date

1888 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Window & Grove (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Sepia photograph on paper

Dimensions

Height: 14.3 cm, Width: 10.4 cm

Object history note

This is one of the outstanding collection of 19th century photographs owned by Guy Little presented to the museum in the early 20th century.

Descriptive line

Photograph of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, 1888. Guy Little Collection.

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Photography

Categories

Photographs; Portraits

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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