The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

 
 
 
Frederick Robson

Frederick Robson


A carte-de-visite portrait of the British comedian, stage actor and ballad singer Frederick Robson (1821-1864).

Born Thomas Robson Brownhill at Margate in 1821 – Frederick Robson was his stage name – he began his theatrical career in 1844 after serving some time as an apprentice to a London engraver. His greatest triumphs were won after 1853 on the boards of the Olympic Theatre. According to the Nuttall Encyclopaedia (1907), ‘Robson combined in a high degree all the gifts of a low comedian with a rare power of rising to the grave and the pathetic.’

He died after a long illness on 12 August 1864, aged only 43, at his residence in Ampthill Square, Camden. Numerous newspapers printed obituaries extolling his talent. According to The Era (21 August 1864): 'Few theatricals have started into fame and distinctness with such rapid strides as did the late Mr Robson. His remarkable genius and bursts of truthful nature took the town by storm, and stamped him as an actor of consummate art and originality. [...] He was eminently an actor of the time, nay of the day, and mounted to eminence by grasping an author's crude thoughts, dressing their outlines, and making great creations of sketchy fragments. As a burlesque actor - burlesque in the high acceptance of the term - he was the greatest artiste that ever trod the stage; and was the first performer who ever taught the Profession how a character could be played on the confines of the sublime and the ridiculous.'

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London in the Spring of 1860.

 

Code: 124410
 
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© Paul Frecker 2018