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Ira Frederick Aldridge (1807-1867), Actor

Sitter in 4 portraits
Aldridge was born in New York and educated at the New York African Free School, where he began to develop an interest in theatre. He came to Britain in 1824, and first appeared on the London stage in 1825 playing the role of Prince Oroonoko of Africa in the melodrama The Revolt of Surinam, or A Slave's Revenge. In 1833, he made his West End debut playing Othello. Audiences were positive but reviewers found the idea of a black actor shocking and the play was soon cancelled. Aldridge was better received elsewhere and made several successful European tours, becoming one of the highest paid actors in the world. His subsequent reputation led to a triumphant return to the London stage in 1855. He died on tour in Poland.

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L251

Ira Frederick Aldridge

after James Northcote
oil on canvas, circa 1826
On display in Room 19 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG L251

D17895

Ira Frederick Aldridge as Mungo in 'The Padlock'

by T. Hollis, published by John Tallis & Company, after William Paine
stipple and line engraving, published circa 1850
NPG D17895

D17967

Ira Frederick Aldridge as Aaron in 'Titus Andronicus'

published by John Tallis & Company, after William Paine
stipple and line engraving, published circa 1850
NPG D17967

D7311

Ira Frederick Aldridge

by Nicolas Barabas
lithograph, 1853
NPG D7311