"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Edwin Forrest

This portrait of Edwin Forest, as Metamora, by Frederick Syles Agate hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
"Like Ira Aldridge, Edwin Forrest debuted on the stage as Othello; but unlike the African American actor, Forrest caused a sensation and became one of the American theater's first great actors. Forrest brought a new naturalism to the American stage, one that exemplified the strength and vigor of the American character. In this portrait he is shown as Metamora, 'an original of this country,' the Indian hero of a play commissioned by Forrest himself.

Forrest became a symbol of American nationalism in the ethnically charged atmosphere of the 1830s and 18405. In 1849 a nativist mob of his supporters attacked New York's Astor Place Theater, where the English actor William Macready was performing. A panicked police force could not control the riot, and twenty-two people were killed in the melee." -- National Portrait Gallery
An engraving of a Mathew Brady photograph of Forrest as Metamora by T. Johnson appeared in The Century Vol. 39, No. 4, February 1890.

This portrait of Forrest, out of character, appears in Lawrence Barrett's 1881 biography of the famous actor.

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