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Sculpture: S0048


Sir Henry Irving's death mask








Height: 26cm
Width: 20.5cm
Depth: 17.5cm

Other materials

Painted to resemble bronze


Presented to the Garrick Club by Sir George Frampton R.A., 1925

Other number

Gift 431

Exhibition history

2005-06 London, National Portrait Gallery, "Henry Irving, a Centenary Display"

Related works

Another is in the University of Bristol Theatre Collection. EJE/002135 "Death Mask of Henry Irving by George Frampton in wooden display case" 1905, left to Lady Martin-Harvey, 1928 and by whom presented to Eric Jones Evans, 1945; bequeathed to the University of Bristol Theatre Collection. According to a letter from Lady Martin-Harvey, also in the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, Frampton had previously presented a copy of the death mask to Lady Martin-Harvey, which she then decided to give to "the Museum at Stratford on Avon together with a very beautiful shrine designed by Sir George to hold it." This is now in the Collections of the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford [without the shrine]; a further example given by Frampton to Ellen Terry now hangs in the Lyceum Room at Smallhythe Place. This is also in a wooden display case; there are two examples in the London Museum. The first was given by Frampton to Bram Stoker and presented by his widow Florence Stoker in 1921 [this example is mounted on a board and surrounded with a laurel wreath. It was illustrated in Laurence Irving "Henry Irving" 1951 (facing p.671). The second, which is in an oak and glass case, had formerly been the property of Edward Gordon Craig (actor and set designer and son of Ellen Terry), and was presented to the Museum by a Mrs G M Spear in 1970

In Bram Stoker's "Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving" 1906 (pp357-358) we learn that late on the evening of October 13th 1905, as he was taking supper, the news arrived that Henry Iving had been taken ill, and that he rushed to the Midland Hotel in Bradford, only to arrive shortly after Irving had passed away. Early the following morning the body had already been embalmed by the undertaker and by 7pm had been sealed in a lead coffin in preparation for the journey to London. This was presumably when the mask was taken.
In Ellen Terry's "The Story of My Life" 1908 pp343-4, there is a short passage entitled "Some Famous Sculptors" where she recounts a meeting with George Frampton:
"We were at the time looking at Henry Irving's death-mask which Mr. Frampton had taken, and a replica of which he had just given me. I thought of Henry's living face, alive with raffish humour and mischief, presiding at a supper in the Beefsteak Room." That the death mask was taken by George Frampton is confirmed in the minutes of a General Committee meeting on February 5th 1925, when the presentation to the Garrick Club was acknowledged.
Sir George Frampton, a central figure in the "New Sculpture" movement, is perhaps best known for his "Peter Pan" (1912) in Kensington Gardens and his monument to Edith Cavell (1920) in St. Martin's Place, London. He became a member of the Garrick Club in 1915, and presented this death mask in 1925.
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