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Lot 131: Charming Ellen Terry Signed Photograph Feeding Her 2 Dogs "Dummy" and "Fussie"
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: TERRY, DAME (ALICE) ELLEN. (1847-1928). English actress. SP. (“Ellen Terry”). 1p. Cabinet card. [London], 1889. A charming sepia Window & Grove photograph of Terry seated with a plate on her lap feeding her two dogs whose names, “Dummy” and “Fussie,” she has added on either side of the image adding, “In grateful remembrance of…”********** Terry was the leading English actress of her time, and her London debut at the age of nine was the first appearance in a career that spanned nearly 70 years. Known for her interpretations of Shakespeare, most frequently opposite famed actor and theater manager Henry Irving, Terry also appeared in plays by Wills, Tennyson, and Shaw, who wrote several parts for her and with whom she maintained a long and intimate correspondence. Her portrayal of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth was immortalized in John Singer Sargent’s famous painting. ********** Our photograph was published in a 1908 issue of McClure’s Magazine to accompany an article by Terry, entitled “American Impressions,” in which she recounts stories from her travels in the United States as well as a number of charming anecdotes about her dogs which were, appropriately, and perhaps, intentionally, English fox terriers. ********** Fussie was Henry Irving’s constant companion and a fixture in his London Lyceum Theatre where he and Terry delighted audiences with their Shakespearean productions, but Fussie also traveled with them when they performed in the U.S. “Wherever we went in America, the hotel people wanted to get rid of the dog. In the paper they had it that Miss Terry asserted that Fussie was a little terrier, while the hotel people regarded him as a pointer; and funny caricatures were drawn of a very big me with a very tiny dog, and a very tiny me with a dog the size of an elephant. Henry often walked straight out of a hotel where an objection was made to Fussie,” (“American Impressions,” McClure’s Magazine, Terry). ********** “As a rule Fussie had the most wonderful sense of the stage, and at rehearsal would skirt the edge of it, but never cross it. But at Brooklyn one night when we were playing “Charles I,” the last act, and that most pathetic part of it where Charles is taking a last farewell of his wife and children, Fussie, perhaps excited by his run over the bridge from New York, suddenly bounded on to the stage! …Henry and I went into hysterics. Fussie knew directly that he had done wrong. He lay down on his stomach, then rolled over on his back, a whimpering apology, while carpenters kept on whistling and calling to him from the wings,” (ibid.). ********** Perhaps appropriately, Fussie died onstage. “A carpenter had thrown down his coat with a ham sandwich in the pocket, over an open trap door on the stage. Fussie, nosing and nudging after the sandwich, fell through and was killed instantly. When they brought up the dog after the performance, every man took his hat off. Henry was not told until the end of the play… The next day he took Fussie back in the train with him to London, covered with a coat. He is buried in the dog’s cemetery, Hyde Park. His death made an enormous different to Henry. Fussie was his constant companion. When he died, Henry was really alone. He never spoke of what he felt about it, but it was easy to know,” (ibid.). ********** With light dust staining and normal wear; in very fine condition.