Ira Aldridge: Theatrical Trailblazer

Ira Frederick Aldridge
lithograph by Nicolas Barabas
1738 × 1112 in.
Here, Aldridge does not appear “in character” but instead holds a book, a long-time symbol that the subject in the portrait was well-educated and intellectual. As Aldridge received international recognition and honors, printers updated earlier illustrations to showcase his awards. A later version of this illustration titled “Ira Aldridge, African Tragedian” is almost identical but shows the addition of medals and ribbons around his neck and an updated inscription: “Member of the Order of Art and Science conferred by His Majesty King William 4th of Prussia, holder of the Medal of Leopold, and the White Cross, etc., etc.”

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