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The 2 masks of comedy and tragedy, or Sock and also Buskin together they are also known for factors I’ll define later, are not often uncovered in cemeteries. And also as you can expect, when they room there’s a theatrical association.

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But what is the background behind this two confronted symbol and also how did these icons from old Greece come right into Victorian cemeteries?

It started with the practice of actors wearing masks, crucial part the the performance, in beforehand Greek theatre. It to be a critical part the Greek society and civic pride. However, Comedy and Tragedy were perceived as totally separate genres and no plays ever merged them.


This genre started in Athens about 532 BC through Thespis, the earliest videotaped tragic actor. The was recognized as ‘Father of Tragedy’ and also it has been argued that his name motivated the English term, thespian, for a performer.

Muse that Tragedy:

Melpomene is the Muse and also is often portrayed holding the Mask of Tragedy. She often also holds a knife or club and additionally wears the ‘cothurni ‘or buskin boots the elevated her above other actors. She to be a daughter that Zeus and also Mnemosyne together was Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, and there were additionally 7 other daughters who were all Muses.


After the loss of Athens by the Spartans in the Peleponnesian War and also the subsequent decline in that power, comedy became much more important than tragedy. I imagine that people wanted some relief after a protracted war and also these were comic episodes around the lives of ordinary Greek citizens. Maybe they were similar to today’s comedy sketches. Greek comedy is reputed to have had a significant influence on roman inn humour as well. Possibly they had very early version of up Pompeii…..

Muse the Comedy:

She is dubbed Thalia yet can likewise be periodically spelled together Thaleia and also is portrayed holding the Mask that Comedy in one hand. She’s generally portrayed as a young woman crowned with ivy. Thalia put on the thin-soled shoe well-known as the ‘sock’ native the Latin soccus. It might seem strange however it’s the footwear that the two Muses that led to them being called ‘sock and also buskin’.

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Thalia, Muse that Comedy – Louise-Michel valve Loo (1707-1771) Domain USA Licenced under Wikipedia creative Commons 2.0
And for this reason both Comedy and Tragedy became two sides of the theatre world.

" data-medium-file="https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/tragic_comic_masks_-_roman_mosaic.jpg?w=220" data-large-file="https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/tragic_comic_masks_-_roman_mosaic.jpg?w=220" class="size-full wp-image-886" src="https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/tragic_comic_masks_-_roman_mosaic.jpg?w=640" alt="Tragic Comic masks Hadrian"s wall mosiac 2nd Century AD. Domain USA . Situated in Capitoline Museum, Rome, Italy. Licenced under wikipedia creative Commons 2.0" srcset="https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/tragic_comic_masks_-_roman_mosaic.jpg 220w, https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/tragic_comic_masks_-_roman_mosaic.jpg?w=150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 220px) 100vw, 220px" />Tragic Comic masks Hadrian’s wall mosiac second Century AD. Domain USA . Situated in Capitoline Museum, Rome, Italy. Licenced under wikipedia an imaginative Commons 2.0Masks:

They were seen as among the top conventions of classic Greek theatre and date ago to the time of Aeschylus (525-456 BC) frequently considered to it is in the dad of Greek tragedy. The old Greek term because that mask is ‘prosopon’ or face. Over there are paints on vases, such together the 5th century BC Pronomos vase, illustrating actors preparing for performance through masks. However none have actually survived due to the organic materials from which castle were created such together stiffened linen, animal leather or cork with wigs that human and also animal hair. ~ the power they were dedicated at the altar that Dionysus.

It was mostly the chorus that provided masks on phase of i m sorry there might be up to 12-15 members. Masks created a sense of unity as soon as representing a solitary character or voice. They constantly created a feeling of mystery and were additionally a technique of disguise. The actor would usage the mask to completely immerse himself in his function and end up being someone else. The also allowed him to appear and reappear in several various roles instead of just being viewed as one character. The exaggerated attributes of the mask also allowed audience members that were sit at a distance to see characters emotions.

I have uncovered four monuments featuring Tragedy and Comedy each in different styles, in London victorian cemeteries: Fred Kitchen in West Norwood Cemetery through a attach to Charlie Chaplin. There room two in Brompton Cemetery: Gilbert Laye and Augustus Henry Glossop Harris’s elegant monuments and also the exuberant Andrew Ducrow dig in Kensal Green.

Fred Kitchen (1872-1951):


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1935 publicity photograph of Fred Kitchen – unknown photographerhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFred_Kitchen_(1873_-_1951)_1935.jpg
The graceful Kitchen memorial was recently revived by the Music room Guild of great Britain & America in march 2016 v the legacy Lottery Fund’s support. It practically dazzles under a summer sky. Both Fred and also his father, Richard (1830-1910) rest here and note the damaged column on which the Sock and Buskin are placed. This denotes that the head the the family members as a damaged column indicated that the support, or head of the family, rests here.

Fred came from a theatrical family members in that his father, Richard, to be the Ballet Master and Dancer at the Theatre imperial Drury Lane. Fred operated mainly in the music halls which were taken into consideration a low kind of entertainment yet many famous comedians learned your craft in them. He was discovered by the legendary impresario, Fred Karno, while play in a production at Glasgow’s Princess Theatre. It to be the ingredient of showbiz legend, or cliche relying on your point of view, together Fred to be standing in for the chef comedian and so, together a result, a 50 year job theatrical job began. Native 1897-1910 Fred was a member of Fred Karno’s Army together with such legends together Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin. Kitchen had a distinct style i beg your pardon featured a splayed walk as he had level feet and scruffy costume. Chaplin later admitted that this had influenced or he had simply ‘borrowed’ it because that his top tramp character. In 1913 Fred appeared in a imperial Command performance for King George V and continued to work until 1945 age 73. However the music hall circuit was beginning to vanish but his son, Fred Kitchen Jr, continued the family members tradition in film and theatre.

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Gilbert Laye (1855-1826) – Brompton Cemetery

This is a striking memorial with ‘Comedy & Tragedy’ that either next of a stylised young woman who is holding what appears to be a lyre. There isn’t lot known about Gilbert Laye, the incumbent, and also I can only discover one credit transaction for him online. This was together the manager of ‘My Lady Molly’ in ~ Daly’s Theatre on new York’s Broadway. It was a music comedy and opened top top 5 January 1904 and closed top top 16 January 1904. The was likewise briefly the manager of the royal residence Pier in Brighton. Both he and also his wife, Evelyn Stuart were well-known as struggling young actors/ However, she was well-known as a respect provincial primary Boy. However, the was your daughter, Evelyn Laye (1900-1995) who came to be a substantial star on phase in music comedy roles. She do her stage debut in 1915 and also acted till well right into her nineties. Evelyn operated with Noel Coward and also made her an initial appearance ~ above Broadway in 1929 in his bitterness Sweet. However, her parents disapproved the her an initial marriage to

actor Sonnie Hale in 1926 i beg your pardon ultimately finished in divorce once he left her for actress Jessie Matthews. Evelyn attractive public sympathy end this with the divorce judge branding Matthews ‘an odious creature.’

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Augustus Henry Glossop Harris (1852-1896)

" data-medium-file="https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/augustus_harris.jpg?w=172" data-large-file="https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/augustus_harris.jpg?w=172" class="size-full wp-image-894" src="https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/augustus_harris.jpg?w=640" alt="Augustus Harris through Henri Brauer (1858-1936) - Joseph Uzanne, numbers contemporaines tirées de l’Album Mariani, Librairie Henri Floury, Paris, vol II, 1896, Bibliothèque nationale de France, publicly Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3181870" srcset="https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/augustus_harris.jpg 172w, https://chathamtownfc.net.files.chathamtownfc.net.com/2016/11/augustus_harris.jpg?w=134 134w" sizes="(max-width: 172px) 100vw, 172px" />Augustus Harris through Henri Brauer (1858-1936) – Joseph Uzanne, figures contemporaines tirées de l’Album Mariani, Librairie Henri Floury, Paris, vol II, 1896, Bibliothèque nationale de France, publicly Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3181870This is a very sophisticated monument through a barefoot mourning woman in robes and her hair tied earlier resting one outstretched eight on the cenotaph. In vintage photos, the various other is increased towards a bust that Harris which tops the plinth. However, the bust is no longer in place and neither is the hand that appeared to stroke it. There room three civilization commemorated on the monument: Augustus himself, his wife Florence Edgcumbe and also their daughter, Florence Nellie Cellier. Nobody of them appear to be hidden in Brompton together Augustus passed away at Folkestone and also Florence’s ashes to be scattered elsewhere. Florence remarried after Augustus’s fatality so she might actually be buried with her 2nd husband.

Augustus to be a brother actor and also impresario that came from an additional theatrical family. Born in Paris his father was a dramatist, Augustus Glossop Harris, and his mommy was Maria Ann Bone, a theatrical costumier. The Brompton Augustus Henry was well-known as ‘the father of brother pantomime’. That co-wrote and produced script for large scale pantos the were performed in ~ the Theatre royal Drury roadway every Christmas. They attracted a popular actors including the legend Dan Leno. Augustus was likewise involved in neighborhood politics and, in 1890, represented the Strand division in the London ar Council. In 1891 he to be appointed a sheriff and was likewise knighted. He married Florence Edgcumbe Rendle in 1881 and also after his fatality she remarried and died in 1914.

Florence Nellie Harris Cellier was their daughter. She married frank Cellier in 1910 and also divorced the in 1925. He was an actor that both appeared and directed in plenty of plays and also acted in Hitchcock’s ‘The 39 Steps’ in 1948.

‘Comedy and Tragedy’ lie beneath a laurel wreath and also violin on peak of a carved cloth in ~ the basic of the cenotaph.

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Andrew Ducrow(1793-1842)

On among the many desirable and also prominent plots in Kensal green Cemetery lies Andrew Ducrow. To speak to his blue painted dig flamboyant is an understatement return the 19th century magazine ‘The Builder’ defined it together a piece of ‘ponderous coxcombry‘ . It to be supposedly created for his first wife however as the epitaph states

‘Within this tomb put up by genius for the agree of its own remains room deposited those of Andrew Ducrow’

It’s a feast the symbols varying from 4 Egyptian format 4 sphinxes and columns ~ above the mausoleum and also a Greek format roof. A relief over the door depicts Pegasus, the winged horse and also a weeping woman in Grecian dress through ‘Comedy and Tragedy’ alongside her ~ above clouds.


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A pair of gloves and also hat lie practically just discarded wait for their owner to don them again on component of a broken column. There’s additionally beehives, shells, flowers and also downturned torches. Two angels flank the currently bricked up enntrance gate which space the closest to any type of Christian symbolism.

Licenced under Wikipedia an imaginative Commons Attribution share Alike 4.0 International

However, Pegasus and also an urn decorated with steeds heads and garlands space not just mere emblems yet direct recommendations to Ducrow’s job which was as a renowned circus performer. He was known as the ‘Father of brothers Circus Equestrianism’. Contemporary day equine acts fan a substantial debt come him as he created numerous horse feats and acts that space still in usage today. For example, his most renowned act ‘Courier the St Petersburg’ is still performed to this day at equestrian events. In this a driver straddles 2 cantering steeds while other horses bearing the flags that the nations through i m sorry a courier would pass top top his means to Russia passed in between his legs.

Ducrow own a circus referred to as Astley’s Amphitheatre and had learned his skills from his Belgian father who had emigrated come England in 1793. However, Ducrow likewise had another act that attracted and thrilled audiences. This to be the ‘plastique’ or physique performances in which he and his sons would wear ‘fleshings’ or flesh coloured human body stockings and also pose on white stallions as they lugged them roughly the amphitheatre number of times. It must have actually been quite a vision to check out under the lights and also it’s a shame the no-one has yet attempted come revive it. There to be a black color performer in the company called Pablo Fanque that is pointed out in the Beatle Sgt Pepper Lonely mind Club band track, ‘Being because that the benefit of grandfather Kite’ which is among my favourites.

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As you can imagine Ducrow and also his firm were extremely popular but bad luck dogged him. The Amphitheatre shed down 3 times and after the critical one in 1841 he had a nervous breakdown. He passed away soon after ~ in 1842 and also the Amphitheatre and circus to be taken over by others who had worked with him.

http://symbolsproject.eu/explore/human/profession/civil/mask-sock-and-buskin-/-comedy-and-tragedy.aspx https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Kitchen_(entertainer)










Walk favor an Egyptian in Kensal green Cemetery, Cathie Bryant, FOKGC publications, 2012