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

Monday, July 4, 2016

Ira Aldridge

This c. 1826 century portrait of Ira Aldridge in the role of Othello by William Mulready hangs in the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland.
"The subject of this work shows a marked resemblance to the famous African-American actor Ira Aldridge (1807-1867), praised as one of the greatest tragic actors of his day, he won renown in Europe for his Shakespearean roles, including Lear, Macbeth and, most famously, Othello. On October 10, 1825, Aldridge made his European debut, making him the first African American actor to establish himself professionally in a foreign country (at London's Royal Coburg Theatre). The following year he played Othello. By the time of his death in 1867 he had won awards and medals all over Europe, having played in Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Cologne, Bonn, Budapest and the mjor cities of Russia. An innovation Aldridge introduced early in his career was a direct address to the audience on the closing night of his engagement at a given theatre. Especially in the years leading up to the emancipation of slaves in British colonies (by act of 1833) he would speak of the injustice of slavery and the passionate desire for freedom of those held in bondage." -- The Walters Art Gallery

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