BROOKE, RUPERT (1887-1915)
EARLY PORTRAIT BY AN UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER AS THE HERALD IN THE EUMENIDES OF AESCHYLUS SIGNED AND DATED BY BROOKE ('Rupert Brooke 1906'), vintage photograph, platinum print, posed full length in the herald's costume with his trumpet held out from his right thigh, notes by Roger Senhouse on the reverse and on an accompanying envelope, framed and glazed, size of image 5 ½ x 3 ½ (14 x 9 cm), overall size 12 ½ x 10 inches (31.5 x 25 cm), [A.D.C. Theatre, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, 30 November], 1906
Paul Delany described the effect of Rupert Brooke in his brother Justin's production of Eumenides: 'Rupert had the right kind of glamour but unfortunately suffered from stage-fright, so Justin cast him as the Herald. All he had to do was to stand downstage in a short skirt, looking interested and say nothing. Eddie Marsh [soon to be Brooke's friend and patron], Private Secretary to the young Cabinet Minister Winston Churchill, experienced the coup de foudre at his first sight of Rupert's "radiant, youthful figure [in gold and vivid red and blue, like a page in the Riccardi Chapel]". James Strachey, now at Trinity and able to renew his acquaintance with Rupert, left a note after the performance telling him how beautiful he looked.' Brooke himself wrote to his mother on 9 November: 'The idea of my playing Hermes fell through, but they have given me the equally large part of the Herald. I stand in the middle of the stage and pretend to blow the trumpet, while somebody in the wings makes a sudden noise. The part is not difficult. The rehearsals are very amusing.' Brooke also explained that he wore 'a red wig and cardboard armour'. The photograph is reproduced by Delany.
In his notes on the reverse, Roger Senhouse (1899-1970), later the lover of Lytton Strachey, quotes A.C. Benson's remark: 'the herald made a pretty figure, spoilt by a glassy stare.'
No example of this photograph is in the National Portrait Gallery.
PROVENANCE: Roger Senhouse.
REFERENCES: Paul Delany, The Neo-Pagans: Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle, 1987; The Letters of Rupert Brooke, edited by Sir Geoffrey Keynes, 1968; John Lehman, Rupert Brooke, 1980.