[Inscribed Lithograph Portrait of] Ira Aldridge African Tragedian. Ira Aldridge, Miklós Barabás.
Inscribed Portrait of Aldridge

[Inscribed Lithograph Portrait of] Ira Aldridge African Tragedian.

Wien [Vienna]: J. Rauh's lith. Kunstanstalt, [ca. 1853]. Original lithograph portrait poster. With mounted inscription and signature by Aldridge. Printed signature and text in English and German. Size: ca. 320 × 390 mm. Slightly trimmed (unevenly). Mounted on cardboard. Small tears to the left and upper edges. Right edge chipped. A small residue of glue and paper beneath the portrait. Overall in very good condition.

Inscribed portrait of Ira Aldridge, the first black Shakespearean actor.

Lithograph portrait of Ira Aldridge, with medals and ribbons around his neck, holding a book, a long-time symbol that the subject in the portrait was well-educated and intellectual, a facsimile of his signature below, titled “African Tragedian”, English and German text listing his orders on both sides of the signature. Holograph inscription in pencil to Madame Arline Bach(?), dated and signed in Berlin in 1861, clipped and mounted around the facsimile signature.


Ira Aldridge (1807 New York City – 1867 Lódz), was an African-American stage actor who made his career largely on the London stage, known as the first black Shakespearean actor and also the first African-American actor to establish himself professionally in a foreign country. Aldridge is the only African-American descent among the 33 actors of the English stage with bronze plaques at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. He was born in New York City, went to the African Free School, and began his acting experience in the early 1820s with the African Company. In 1825, Aldridge made his European debut at London’s Royal Coburg Theatre, played the lead role in Thomas Southerne’s Oroonoko, later he became most famous for his Shakespearean roles. He was especially popular in Prussia and Russia, where he received the highest honors from heads of state.

In the spring of 1853, Aldridge performed several times on the stage of the Hungarian National Theatre in Pest. While in Hungary, the renowned portrait painter Miklós Barabás (1810–1898) created the original drawing of the present lithograph, which was on the market from April 1853. A slightly different version of this portrait, lacking the orders around the neck and the texts, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG D7311), another one whereon the portrait is printed on toned background held at the British Museum (1875,0710.5975).

Extremely scarce.

Price: €8,000.00

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