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Frederick Styles Agate, 1807 - 1 May 1844  Search this
Edwin Forrest, 9 Mar 1806 - 12 Dec 1872  Search this
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 62.2 x 49.2 x 2.5cm (24 1/2 x 19 3/8 x 1")
Frame: 84.8 x 73 x 9.5cm (33 3/8 x 28 3/4 x 3 3/4")
c. 1832
Exhibition Label:
Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Edwin Forrest rejected the genteel traditions of British theater and instead originated a vigorous style of acting intended to exemplify the rugged strength of the American character. After beginning his career in Philadelphia, in 1820, he traveled the country, often performing in blackface, before achieving success in New York City. By the 1830s, he had become the country’s highest paid actor.
In 1828, Forrest began commissioning original works of drama aimed at mythologizing national history. Here, he appears as the titular character in Metamora, or the Last of the Wampanoags (1829), John Augustus Stone’s play about the calamitous seventeenth-century war that pitted New England colonists against Wampanoag and Narragansett people. Opening less than a year before Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act (1830), the play reinforced white supremacist beliefs about the inevitable demise of Native Americans. The role of the heroic but tragically doomed Metamora became a mainstay of Forrest’s repertoire.
Nacido en Filadelfia, Pensilvania
Edwin Forrest rechazó las gentiles tradiciones del teatro británico para crear un estilo de actuación vigoroso que intentaba reflejar el recio temple estadounidense. Luego de iniciar su carrera en Filadelfia en 1820, se presentó por todo el país, a menudo con la cara pintada de negro, hasta triunfar en Nueva York. Para la década de 1830 era el actor mejor pagado de Estados Unidos.
En 1828, Forrest empezó a encargar obras de teatro originales que mitificaran la historia nacional. Aquí aparece como el protagonista de Metamora, o el último de los wampanoags (1829), obra de John Augustus Stone sobre la guerra calamitosa que enfrentó a los colonos de Nueva Inglaterra con los pueblos wampanoag y narragansett. Estrenada meses antes de que Andrew Jackson firmara la Ley de Traslado Forzoso de los Indios (1830), la obra reforzaba las nociones supremacistas blancas sobre el fin inevitable de los nativos americanos. El papel del héroe trágico Metamora se convirtió en puntal del repertorio de Forrest.
The artist; Thomas Agate Carmichael; (Victor Spark); purchased 1965 NPG.
Costume\Headgear\Headdress  Search this
Costume\Jewelry\Earring  Search this
Edwin Forrest: Male  Search this
Edwin Forrest: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Stage actor  Search this
Edwin Forrest: Performing Arts\Theater manager  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Kathryn and Gilbert Miller Fund in memory of Alexander Ince
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900
On View:
NPG, East Gallery 120
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery