# 42851


Tinted studio portrait of comedian Harry Power in stage costume as Harlequin. Sydney, New South Wales, February 1874.

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Albumen print photograph with hand colouring, carte de visite format, 102 x 64 mm (mount); verso with imprint of ‘A. Tronier, Artist Photographer, 410 George Street, Two doors from King Street, Sydney’, and contemporary inscription in pencil ‘Harry Power, 4/2/74’; the albumen print is in good condition; the mount is lightly foxed.

Provenance: from a group of theatre-related photographs originally collected by the Sydney actor, stage manager and playwright Alfred Dampier.

Ballarat-born Harry Power published a memoir of his stage career, Harry Power’s scrap book, or, Leaves from the life of an Australian comedian (Sydney : City of Sydney Printing Co., 1882).

In January 1869, young Power was just about to embark on a solo career as a comedian. He had already performed on the Ballarat stage during 1868, including in the role of Rosencrantz in Hamlet at the Theatre Royal. In Melbourne in February 1869, his as yet untapped potential was hinted at by an impressed theatre critic in The Australasian (20 February 1869), who wrote:

‘Mr. Harry Power … comes, as I am informed, from Ballarat. If I mistake not, he has the right material to make an effective actor in him. Last week I saw part of his performance of Jim Swain, in “Black Sheep,” and on Monday he played Sniffles in “A.S.S.”, and on both these occasions I had reason to be very well satisfied with him. He may be crude, unformed, unfinished, but he has, or I am much at fault, the true ring in him.’

In the early 1870s Power toured throughout Victoria and New South Wales, and also visited Adelaide. He occasionally appeared in serious dramatic productions as well as performing comedic sketches. However, the present carte would have been obtained by Alfred Dampier – almost certainly from Power himself – in Sydney, since Power was definitely in that city in January-February 1874, according to a Sydney theatre correspondent writing in The Herald (Melbourne), 2 February 1874:

‘Harry Power is here unemployed at present, but is I believe to have an engagement at the Queen’s shortly’.

In this carte, Power is dressed in costume as the most famous of commedia dell’arte characters, Harlequin.

The photograph was taken in the 410 George Street studio of Sydney photographer August Tronier, who was at this address between 1873 and 1877.