# 29028


Photographic portrait of the tragic actor G. V. Brooke. Melbourne, 1865-66.

$220.00 AUD

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Albumen print photograph, carte de visite format, 101 x 62 mm (mount), 56 x 42 mm (oval format cartouche), verso with imprint of ‘Davies & Co., Photographers, 91 & 94 Bourke St. East, Branch Offices No. 5, Collins St. West, 3 doors from Elizabeth St., Melbourne’; the albumen print has a diagonal surface scratch in the upper right section of the image, which reaches as far as Brooke’s left eye, but is otherwise good; the mount is clean and stable.

The great Irish-born Shakespearean actor Gustavus Vaughan Brooke (1818-1866) was a significant figure on the Australian colonial stage from the time of his arrival in Melbourne early in 1855 up until May 1861, when he returned to England. Although his performances in Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart made him a popular theatre personality in those cities too, he won a special place in the hearts of theatre-goers in Melbourne and on the Victorian goldfields – despite his struggle with chronic alcoholism. Having been booked by George Coppin for another two-year Australian tour in 1865, Brooke drowned en route from Plymouth to Melbourne in February, 1866, his last words reputedly being ‘Give my last farewell to the people of Melbourne.’

The State Library of Victoria appears to hold the only other example of this fine portrait of G. V. Brooke in Australian collections. The portrait was published by Davies & Co. in Melbourne no earlier than 1863 (their 5 Collins Street branch was not opened until that year). However, the photograph was probably taken in England in 1865. Davies & Co.’s original intention was probably to sell the carte de visite in commemoration of what would have been Brooke’s triumphant return to Melbourne; as it transpired, once news of the actor’s untimely death reached Melbourne the image instead became a souvenir of his all too brief life.