From the Collection of Guy Tristram Little at
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This 1863 photograph shows Victorian actor Henry Neville in the role of “Bob Brierly” in the Olympic Theatre’s production of “The Ticket of Leave Man.” When this photo was taken, photography was still a novelty. Actors such as Mr. Neville were pleased to have the additional publicity that photographs afforded them and happily sat for promotional stills. Such images were highly collectible by Victorian Society. Many amassed collections of these “cartes de visite,” and the cabinet cards which followed. Cartes de visite received their name from their size—just about the dimensions of a formal calling or visiting card while cabinet cards were larger. These collectible photos depicted almost anything from fashionable individuals to exotic landscapes. Introduced in 1854, these photos, by 1860, were wildly popular.
This photograph of Henry Neville comes from a large collection of cartes de visite and cabinet cards which were removed from their backings and mounted in albums by Guy Tristram Little (d.1953) who bequeathed them to the V&A. Little’s famous theatrical collection formed the basis of the Theatre Collections at the museum.