Blog

Spotlight: a portrait of Sir Francis Burnand

Show Navigation
13/10/2014

By | From the Collections

Portrait of Sir Francis Burnand. Albumen print with watercolour, ca. 1855. Wellcome Library no. 2045464i

Portrait of Sir Francis Burnand. Albumen print with watercolour, ca. 1855.
Wellcome Library no. 2045464i

Francis Cowley Burnand (1836-1917) was educated at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge, and while at Cambridge founded the Cambridge Amateur Dramatic Club in 1855. (The club still flourishes today, now as then called the ADC.) Burnand subsequently became well known as editor of Punch from 1880 to 1906. He was also a prolific playwright, and was librettist for the operatic farce Box and Cox (1866) with music by Arthur Sullivan. Burnand was knighted in 1902.

The photograph of him above, taken in his Cambridge days, portrays him in the superb ‘toilette’ of a bride, the vast crinoline composed of tiers of looped and ruffled lace, applied here and there with sprigs of pink roses which match the trim of the headdress. A quadruple row of large pearls adorns the subject’s throat and completes the very elaborate and expensive costume.

This hand coloured albumen print, in carte de visite format, is one of several by W. Farren of Rose Crescent, Cambridge, datable to the mid 1850s and showing the earliest members of the ADC. They are grouped together in a Victorian carte de visite album in the Library. The Burnand print has Farren’s printed device on the reverse of the mount and the name “F.C. Burnand” inscribed in pencil. The album is in turn part of the James Gardiner collection of 1,083 photographs and postcards which were acquired by the Wellcome Library in 2013: they show cross-dressing, gender outlaws and gender stereotypes in various contexts (theatre, music hall, the military, prisoners of war, circus, night life, etc.) from the mid-19th century to the 1970s.

Author: James Gardiner is cataloguing his eponymous collection at the Wellcome Library.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Related Blog Posts