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Mirror
  • Mirror
    Beerbohm Tree, Herbert, born 1852 - died 1917
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Mirror

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (painted)

  • Date:

    late 19th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beerbohm Tree, Herbert, born 1852 - died 1917 (painters (artists))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Paint on mirror

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Tony Sympson

  • Museum number:

    S.18-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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This mirror belonged to Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the eminent late-Victorian actor-manager of Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End.
From 1887, Tree was manager of the Haymarket Theatre. He restored the theatre's reputation to high prestige, performing in popular melodramas such as Trilbyand producing and starring in new drama including plays by Ibsen and Wilde. He furthermore mounted critically-acclaimed productions of Shakespeare including Hamletand The Merry Wives of Windsor. His reputation and profit from these productions meant that by 1897, he could help fund construction of Her Majesty's Theatre, which he subsequently managed. It was during his tenure here that he performed all three of the roles pictured on this mirror.

Painted by Tree as a make-up guide for future performances, the mirror features, clockwise from top, Falstaff from The Merry Wives of Windsor,Fagin from Oliver Twistand Svengali from Trilby. Tree was considered a versatile actor, taking on a number of roles, but criticism of his style focused on his external, superficial approach to character. His performances as tragic characters were mostly overshadowed by other contemporary actors, such as Irving, but in eccentric roles he excelled. The three characters pictured here - Svengali, an evil hypnotist; Fagin, a stereotyped leader of a band of robber children; and Falstaff, a fat, arrogant and cowardly knight - all played to Tree's strengths as an actor, being outlandish and exaggerated.

Physical description

Mirror with wooden frame, painted by Herbert Beerbohm Tree with images of the faces of Falstaff, Fagin and Svengali.

Place of Origin

London, England (painted)

Date

late 19th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Beerbohm Tree, Herbert, born 1852 - died 1917 (painters (artists))

Materials and Techniques

Paint on mirror

Dimensions

Height: 114 cm, Width: 92 cm, Depth: 5.5 cm includes mount for mirror plates

Object history note

Given to the British Theatre Museum Association by Tony Sympson

Descriptive line

Make-up mirror from Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree's dressing room, painted by him with images of his make-up as Falstaff, Svengali and Fagin

Exhibition History

Theatre and Performance (Victoria and Albert Museum, Galleries 103 -106 01/01/2009-31/12/2009)

Labels and date

Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s make-up

Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852–1917) was one of the most famous actor-managers of his era. He designed his own character make-ups for Falstaff, Fagin and Svengali and drew them onto this make-up mirror so he could copy them whenever he played the roles.

The photograph shows Tree in The Man Who Was. He played two characters in the play, in this instance an escaped Siberian prisoner. [68 words]

Mirror
1880–1900
Glass, greasepaint and wood
Given by Tony Sympson
Museum no. S.18-2008

Tree in The Man Who Was
1903
Play by Rudyard Kipling, 1890
His Majesty’s Theatre, London
Photograph
Museum no. 38041 701005811.1

Materials

Paint; Wood; Mirror glass

Techniques

Painting (image-making); Framing

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure

Collection code

T&P

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Qr_O146263
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