Ira Aldridge: Theatrical Trailblazer

Ira Aldridge as Othello
photograph; date and location unknown
“The Chevalier Ira Aldridge as Othello”
engraving; date unknown
These undated images again show Aldridge posing in costume for Othello. Although access to photography gradually increased during Aldridge’s lifetime, prints made from etchings or lithographs were often sharper and were easier for printers to mass-reproduce. Frequently, the engravers and printers placed less emphasis on reproducing a person’s face accurately than on capturing decorative details, and sometimes simply updated or re-used older generic templates. By the time the engraving was printed, Aldridge had been awarded a knighthood in Europe been granted use of the title “Chevalier.”

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