Michael Howard Theater Collection stars $6,500 Tempest painting

A Chinese painting, depicting Shakespeare's The Tempest, has beaten its estimate by 30% at the Theater Collection sale of US actor and theatre director Michael Howard.

The reverse painting on glass, produced during the early 19th century after a work by English portrait painter George Romney (1734-1802), sold for $6,500 against a $5,000 valuation.

Chinese reverse glass Tempest painting
A Chinese work on glass of The Tempest – up 30% on estimate

The October 6 sale in Boston starred an array of theatrical material collected by Howard over the course of 60 years.

A late 19th century Thomas Hicks painting of Edwin Booth in his famous role of Iago from Shakespeare's Othello sold for $5,000, while a circa 1690 French needlework sampler of the Italian form of masked theatre known as the Commedia dell'Arte, depicting the characters of Il Dottore, Harlequin and Scaramouche, sold for $3,750.

A portrait of David Garrick, produced by Joseph Blackburn in the 18th century, achieved $2,000, and a 1798 needlework sampler containing Shakespearean verse sold for $950.

"I think collecting is somewhere in my DNA," said Howard prior to the sale, who was a key figure in the off-Broadway movement of the 1950s.

"Throughout my adult life, my collection focused on actors, acting, and the history of both.

Michael Howard Theater Collection
A c.1690 French needlework sampler depicting the Commedia dell'Arte made $3,750

"Like many other collectors, I recognise profoundly that I have been a caretaker of these objects large and small; my private pleasure is in restoring, repairing and museum matting as many as I can - no matter their significance. I hope another will find as much joy in them as I have."

The theatre memorabilia sector is much smaller than its big screen counterpart but can be no less rewarding.

We have this autographed photograph of Laurence Olivier available to buy today.

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