# 32373

BARDWELL, William (1836-1929)

Studio portrait of George Bennett, stage actor. Ballarat, October 1869.

$330.00 AUD

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Albumen print photograph with hand colouring, cabinet card format, 160 x 120 mm; recto with gilt border and imprint in lower margin ‘Cabinet Portrait. From Bardwell’s Royal Studio, Ballarat.’; verso with the sitter’s inscription in ink ‘George Bennett, Oct. 1869, Ballaarat, Australia’; both the print and mount are in excellent condition.

A magnificent hand-coloured studio portrait by William Bardwell.

We believe the imperious-looking gentleman in top hat and frock coat, holding his leather gloves in the right hand, is the stage actor George Bennett, who in 1869 was touring with the visiting American Shakespearean actor Walter Montgomery. The fact that his inscription includes the word Australia suggests that he was not from the colonies. In his lapel he is wearing what appears to be a printed card – a stage pass? – attached to a chain with gold and green decoration

Bennett’s name appears in a review of Montgomery’s production of Antony and Cleopatra at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal, published in the Leader, 10 July 1869:

… the rugged pathos of Phelps, Cooper and George Bennett making the inferior parts stand forth in relief….

A few months later, on 2 October 1869, The Weekly Times of Melbourne reported that ‘Mr. Walter Montgomery having concluded his dramatic performances and recitals at Adelaide, is now in Melbourne. He has been announced to appear at Ballarat in ” King John,” and “Antony and Cleopatra,” but it is not certain whether he will proceed with the engagement….

This might explain why George Bennett was in Ballarat in October 1869, where he had his portrait taken at Bardwell’s studio – which was located, as it so happens, directly opposite the Theatre Royal.