Head of a Man (?Ira Frederick Aldridge)

Image credit: Tate

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This painting almost certainly represents the American Shakespearean actor Ira Frederick Aldridge (1807?–67) in character. Around 1826–7 the same sitter appears in several paintings by British artists, including another picture by Simpson, The Captive Slave 1827 (Art Institute of Chicago) for which this appears to be a related study. Aldridge came to Britain in 1824, and embarked on what became a hugely successful career in Europe. It is unclear whether he was working as a professional model for these artists, or sitting to them to promote his own public image.

Tate Britain



Head of a Man (?Ira Frederick Aldridge)


exhibited 1827


Oil paint on canvas


H 73.3 x W 56.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by Robert Vernon 1847

Work type



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