Herbert Beerbohm Tree as King John in King John by William Shakespeare thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Herbert Beerbohm Tree as King John in King John by William Shakespeare

Painting
1900 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Painting entitled 'Herbert Beerbohm Tree as King John in King John by William Shakespeare'. Oil on canvas, framed and glazed. Charles Buchel, 1900.

Actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852-1917) was famous for the productions of Shakespeare which he staged, with great magnificence, at his theatre, Her Majesty’s, in London’s West End. King John was the second of Shakespeare’s works to be presented there, opening in 1899. It was hugely popular, playing for 114 performances. Costume designer Percy Anderson based his designs on historical sources and created a sumptuous gown of gold silk for John, with a cloth-of-gold cloak lined with fur, and a crown based on the king’s tomb effigy in Worcester Cathedral. The proprietor of the costume makers, L. & H. Nathan, was quoted in the Daily Chronicle (21 September 1899), as saying ‘We do not pretend ever to have turned out anything better in quality of material.’

Charles Buchel depicted this costume in his 1900 portrait. Buchel (1872–1950) worked with Tree for 16 years, providing illustrations for the souvenir brochures that accompanied the productions, designing posters, creating murals to decorate Tree’s apartment at Her Majesty’s, and painting the actor-manager himself: King John was his third portrait of Tree in character and, at over two metres high, was the largest and grandest. It was painted at the artist’s studio, where Tree arrived with full costume, make-up and dresser. The scene recreated is the play’s Act 4, scene 2, where the king is beset by disasters and deserted by his nobles.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Painting entitled 'Herbert Beerbohm Tree as King John in King John by William Shakespeare'. Oil on canvas, framed and glazed. Charles Buchel, 1900
Physical Description
Oil on canvas, glazed, in a foliate carved and gilded frame with a shield top centre featuring the title. King John, dressed in a golden robe and a golden fur-lined cloak, both elaborately decorated, is seated on a throne on a stepped dias, the steps covered in red carpet decorated with a gold heraldic lion, passant guardant. John, in distress, leans his head on his left hand and, with his right hand. grips the arm of the throne.
Dimensions
  • Height: 218.4cm
  • Width: 147.3cm
  • Frame height: 245cm
  • Frame width: 171cm
  • Frame depth: 8.5cm
Subjects depicted
Summary
Painting entitled 'Herbert Beerbohm Tree as King John in King John by William Shakespeare'. Oil on canvas, framed and glazed. Charles Buchel, 1900.



Actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852-1917) was famous for the productions of Shakespeare which he staged, with great magnificence, at his theatre, Her Majesty’s, in London’s West End. King John was the second of Shakespeare’s works to be presented there, opening in 1899. It was hugely popular, playing for 114 performances. Costume designer Percy Anderson based his designs on historical sources and created a sumptuous gown of gold silk for John, with a cloth-of-gold cloak lined with fur, and a crown based on the king’s tomb effigy in Worcester Cathedral. The proprietor of the costume makers, L. & H. Nathan, was quoted in the Daily Chronicle (21 September 1899), as saying ‘We do not pretend ever to have turned out anything better in quality of material.’



Charles Buchel depicted this costume in his 1900 portrait. Buchel (1872–1950) worked with Tree for 16 years, providing illustrations for the souvenir brochures that accompanied the productions, designing posters, creating murals to decorate Tree’s apartment at Her Majesty’s, and painting the actor-manager himself: King John was his third portrait of Tree in character and, at over two metres high, was the largest and grandest. It was painted at the artist’s studio, where Tree arrived with full costume, make-up and dresser. The scene recreated is the play’s Act 4, scene 2, where the king is beset by disasters and deserted by his nobles.

Bibliographic Reference
Ashton, Geoffrey. Catalogue of Paintings at the Theatre Museum, London. ed. James Fowler, London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992. 224p. ill. ISBN 1851771026
Collection
Accession Number
S.332-1989

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record createdNovember 5, 2003
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