The Irving Society Newsletter No 70

19th AGMOverview of the 19th AGM of The Irving Society & the 19th Century Theatre

The Society’s 19th Annual General Meeting was this year held on Sunday, 8 February 2015 at the Concert Artistes’ Association at 20 Bedford Street in London.  The day was unseasonably bright and mild, and the Society’s festivities were well attended by Members.  The afternoon began as usual with the laying of a wreath at the foot of Sir Thomas Brock’s statue to Sir Henry Irving on Charing Cross Road.



Imogen Irving‘The Message in the Bottle’ GUSTAVUS VAUGHAN BROOKE (1818-1866)

Imogen Irving, great-great-great Grandaughter of Sir Henry led the assembled crowd in three cheers to her ancestor, and then Members retired to the CAA.  Practicalities were concluded with a fascinating talk by the Society’s Chair, Frances Hughes, entitled ‘The Message in the Bottle’ GUSTAVUS VAUGHAN BROOKE (1818-1866).

Birthday cake was had in celebration of the man of the hour, and the meeting ended with a raffle of prizes. Members remarked that they are looking forward greatly to next year’s AGM, marking as it will the 20th anniversary of the Society.



The recent death of the distinguished actor Alan Howard brings vividly to mind today’s links with the theatre of the nineteenth century in that his theatrical forbears included Henry Compton (1805-1877) and his wife Emmeline Montague (1820-1911) both of whom are buried in Brompton Cemetery in London together with their unmarried actor son Henry  Compton(1852-1911).  The grave of their actor/manager son Edward Compton (1854-1918) and his wife Virginia Bateman (1855-1940) is in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking.

An extended article on Alan Howard’s family background will appear in the autumn issue of First Knight.



SARGENT: Portraits of Artists and Friends.
National Portrait Gallery, 12 February – 25 May 2015

Ellen Terry
Photo of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth by John Singer Sargent, 1889 (c) Tate, London

Frances Hughes writes:  Dominating eight rooms in the NPG John Singer Sargent is revealed through the presentation of seventy paintings, many not displayed in the UK before,as having a striking modern talent. Portraits  painted in Paris (1874-1885), Boston and New York (1888- 1912) and London (1889-1913) will bring alive especially for Irvingites,  the leading actors, dancers, playwrights and authors of the late 19C in France, USA and Great Britain.

The painting of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth needs no advocacy and it still demands attention even if well known in the UK but there are portraits which have not been displayed in Great Britain before. From private collections comes an oil of Lawrence Barrett, the celebrated American actor (1838- 1890) most famed as Cassius in Julius Caesar and then a literally towering oil painting in the same year of Edwin Booth commissioned by members of the Players Club in New York. Four years later Sargent painted Ada Rehan ( born in Limerick as Delia Crehan) who played leading roles on both sides of the Atlantic. Sargent did not always take commissions but persuaded his sitters using his charm to sit for him briefly. In 1893 Eleanora Duse came to London to play the Princess in Sardou’s Fedora; she sat for him for just one hour but the portrait is remarkable.

Sargent’s charcoal and chalk drawings of Harley Granville Barker, Faure, Mrs Pat Campbell and Mary Anderson plus Henry James on his 70th birthday came in the first two decades of the 20C when Sargent had largely abandoned portraiture – I found them just as riveting because in a crowded gallery they establish their own confidence.

There are a series of talks at the NPG plus a day conference on Friday 17th April on  Sargent and the Arts of his Time  £30 (£25)

Timed admission is requested on booking and the exhibition is somewhat overcrowded but it is worth going just to see the Spanish dancer La Carmencita perform on canvas – and to recognise the NPG statement that  in the twenty first Century John Singer Sargent is still seen as ‘intimate, idiosyncratic and experimental’.



Donald Sinden MemorialSir Donald Sinden

A Celebration
at Wyndhams Theatre
Tuesday 19 May 2015 at 2.30 pm

For tickets, send name & address to:
The Royal Theatrical Fund
11 Garrick St, London WC2E 9AR
by 4 May

General Notices

  • Due to requests from the membership, the Committee has agreed that forthcoming publication dates for the Society’s journal and newsletter will be staggered in order to provide more regular contact throughout the year- as well as to capture time sensitive updates and information.  Future publication dates for The Irvingite will be in April, July and December, with First Knight released in February and October.
  • The Committee wishes to update members that the refresh of the Society’s website is making good progress and should soon be launched.  Members will be informed as soon as the new site is live.
  • As a reminder, should any members no longer wish to retain single or multiple back issues of First Knight, the Editorial Committee would be pleased to receive such copies to meet the needs of those seeking to fill gaps in their collection – lost or mislaid – or for the benefit of newer members seeking to add to their collection.


And finally, it is with deepest regret that we must report the death of Irving Society Member Keith Hutton.  Keith was a Founding Member of the Society, having joined when it was first established in 1996.  He was very involved with our activities and events throughout the years and his presence will be sorely missed.  The Society wishes to extend their most heartfelt sympathy to Keith’s family and friends at this difficult time.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.