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Prince Albert was an early adopter of portrait photography

Martin Laroche (1814-86)

Mr Ryder (1814-85) as King Henry IV surrounded by his sons 1857

Hand coloured photograph | 22.5 x 18.3 cm (image) | RCIN 2909987

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Hand coloured photograph of actor John Ryder as King Henry IV in a recreation of Act 5 scene 4, the final scene of the eponymous play, as performed at the Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street in London. Ryder is seated on a raised throne, wearing a red velvet gown with a blue robe and an ermine short cape, crown and collar. He faces right, his face captured in profile. He is surrounded by four children, two standing and two sitting on steps. Two other male actors on the right hand side playing a bishop and a knight (possibly Mr Paulo as Exton).

The pale blue costumes worn by the children in this scene were the inspiration behind those worn by Prince's Arthur and Leopold for the costumed children's Ball of 1859. In February 1857, Richard II was performed by Kean's company in St George's Hall. Kean then opened the production of Shakespeare's play in March 1857 at the Princess's Theatre in Oxford Street. Queen Victoria and her family visited the theatre to watch the production five times where it made a lasting impression on Princess Victoria, the Queen's eldest daughter. This photograph and other hand coloured photographs of the cast of the play were purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1857 as a Christmas present that appear in a photograph of the gifts surrounding Queen Victoria's Christmas tree that was taken on the 24 December 1857.   
  • Creator(s)

    Martin Laroche (1814-86) (photographer)

    Martin Laroche (1814-86) (colourist)

    John Ryder (1814-85)
  • 22.5 x 18.3 cm (image)

  • Given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert as a Christmas gift

  • Object type(s)
      • visual works
        • photographs
    • Science, Medicine and Technology
      • Industries, Crafts and Trades
        • Toys and Decorations
          • Theatrical costumes
    • Language, Linguistics and Literature
      • Literature
        • English literature
          • Henry IV, Part 1 (Shakespeare)