Not currently on display at the V&A

Stage property used by Henry Irving in The Merchant of Venice

Stage Property
1879 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Stage property 'bond' used by Henry Irving as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Lyceum Theatre, 1879.

In Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice the bond is an important property. It is the document setting out the terms on which the money lender Shylock agrees to lend the merchant Antonio 3,000 ducats, noting that Antonio must forfeit of a pound of flesh if he defaults on the repayment. Shylock wields the bond when Antonio cannot pay, saying: 'Let him look to his bond', and it is a vital 'prop' in the courtroom scene where the disguised Portia begs Shylock 'Let me tear the bond...' before Shylock snatches it back.

The Merchant of Venice was considered one of Irving's finest productions, and his portrayal of Shylock both innovative and sympathetic. As usual in Irving's productions at the Lyceum Theatre, enormous care was taken with the scenery, costumes and properties. Critics were fulsome in their praise for the designs of Hawes Craven, which they agreed had never been surpassed.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Sewn vellum and cotton
Brief Description
Stage property 'bond' used by Henry Irving as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Lyceum Theatre, 1879
Physical Description
Property bond, beige vellum mounted on cream cotton cloth with black petersham ribbon and burgundy-painted metal seal. The vellum contains several deliberately torn areas, stitched together with double cotton thread. The vellum has been treated to appear dusty and aged.
Dimensions
  • At highest pont height: 28.4cm
  • At widest point width: 45.0cm
Credit line
Given by the British Theatre Museum Association
Object history
Part of the Donald Wolfit bequest to the British Theatre Museum Association (BTMA), presented to the BTMA by Lady Wolfit on 24 April 1968.
Association
Summary
Stage property 'bond' used by Henry Irving as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Lyceum Theatre, 1879.



In Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice the bond is an important property. It is the document setting out the terms on which the money lender Shylock agrees to lend the merchant Antonio 3,000 ducats, noting that Antonio must forfeit of a pound of flesh if he defaults on the repayment. Shylock wields the bond when Antonio cannot pay, saying: 'Let him look to his bond', and it is a vital 'prop' in the courtroom scene where the disguised Portia begs Shylock 'Let me tear the bond...' before Shylock snatches it back.



The Merchant of Venice was considered one of Irving's finest productions, and his portrayal of Shylock both innovative and sympathetic. As usual in Irving's productions at the Lyceum Theatre, enormous care was taken with the scenery, costumes and properties. Critics were fulsome in their praise for the designs of Hawes Craven, which they agreed had never been surpassed.
Other Number
1968/A/42 - BTMA accession number
Collection
Accession Number
S.815-1981

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record createdOctober 5, 2005
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