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The Green Room

4 of 10 portraits of Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan

The Green Room, by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company, 11 May 1867 - NPG x18489 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

The Green Room

by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company
albumen print, 11 May 1867
6 3/4 in. x 8 1/2 in. 173 mm x 217 mm
Given by M. McCheane, 1962
Photographs Collection
NPG x18489


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Cox and Box marked Sullivan's first departure from the serious music with which he had made his name. With a libretto by F.C. Burnand, this one-act comic opera was performed five years before Sullivan's first collaboration with Gilbert. This photograph records a charity performance at the Adelphi Theatre, London, staged by Punch magazine to benefit the widow of former colleague Charles Bennett (1829-67). Ironically, Gilbert, writing a review in rival magazine Fun, anticipated the criticism later to be levied at his own libretti: 'Mr Sullivan's music is, in places, of too high a class for the grotesquely absurd plot to which it is wedded.'

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Current affairs

The Second Reform Act, although effectively a Liberal measure, is expediently passed by the Conservatives, under Disraeli's influence, who believed it would widen Conservative appeal by making the party appear more progressive. The Act extended the vote to 1.5 million working men in British towns, and redistributed 52 seats from towns with populations under 10,000 to the newer urban towns.

Art and science

Karl Marx publishes his hugely influential Das Kapital, whilst living and researching in London. Its proclaimed aim was 'to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society', and it presented mid-Victorian capitalism in terms of a tragic drama. Henry Irving rises to fame on the London stage, performing alongside Ellen Terry for the first time, beginning their famous theatrical association.

International

Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria, becomes King of Hungary, and thus ruler of the 'dual monarchy' of Austria-Hungary. The dominion of Canada is formed, as the British North America Act unites four British colonies, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. The Act defines much of Canada's constitution and operation of government, and Canada's dominion status is the first of its kind.

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