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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Henry Squires

early 1860s
Dalton's Royal Photographic Gallery

albumen silver carte de visite, hand-coloured on card (support: 10.0 cm x 6.4 cm, image: 9.0 cm x 5.7 cm)

American opera singer, Henry Squires (1825–1907), performed in Australia and New Zealand throughout the 1860s as part of William Saurin Lyster’s Grand Opera Company. Known for his ‘legitimate head tones and skilfully managed falsetto notes’, Squires appeared in over 1300 performances during his eight year stay, the majority of which he performed in leading roles with his future wife, prima donna di forza, Lucy Escott. Born in 1825 in Bennington, Vermont, Squires trained as a professional singer under the instruction of church organist and early in his career appeared in New York with divas such as the ‘Swedish Nightingale’, Jenny Lind, and renowned soprano, Lucy Escott. In 1852, he went on to perform in Italy, becoming known as the ‘first American singer to have achieved a career on an Italian stage’2 and later sang with J. H Tully’s National English Opera company. Arriving in Australia in 1861, he debuted alongside Escott Lucia di Lammermoor at the Theatre Royal in Melbourne. Lyster’s company proved popular with audiences, performing six nights a week with a repertoire of operas in Italian, German and English. Possessing ‘handsome stage presence and a beautiful bel canto voice’, Squires was an immediate favourite with Melbourne audiences and, along with Escott, was said to have rivalled Nellie Melba in making opera a form of mass entertainment in Australia. Though audiences called for Squires to ‘infuse more animation into his acting’, he possessed a ‘beautiful mezza voce’ and was considered as ‘great a draw as the prima donna’. After nearly twenty years of working together, Squires and Escott married in May 1870 and retired to Paris. Squires returned to the USA following Escott’s death and died in Iowa in January 1907.

Edwin Dalton (active 1853–1865), artist and photographer, arrived in Victoria in the early 1850s having exhibited on occasion with the Royal Academy since 1818. In London, he had trained and worked with painter Sir William Ross, whose artist–sister Magdalena Dalton married. In Melbourne, he established himself as a portrait painter, exhibiting with the Victoria Fine Arts’ Society in 1853 and in the Melbourne Exhibition in 1854. He added photography to his repertoire after moving to Sydney where, in 1858, he opened his ‘Royal Photographic Establishment’ at 400 George Street. By 1861 he was offering ‘photographic portraiture in all the modern branches – crayon, ivory, glass and paper – artistically coloured by E. Dalton, formerly painter and instructor to the Queen’. Dalton’s cartes de visite of Henry Squires and Lucy Escott were among the many portraits of local and international personages advertised as being available from Sydney stationer J.R. Clarke in December 1862 for two shillings each (or 21 shillings per dozen). This delicately hand-coloured carte of Squires and the corresponding image of Escott were originally contained in Squires’ personal carte de visite album.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Dalton's Royal Photographic Gallery

Henry Squires (age 35 in 1860)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related portraits

1. Lucy Escott, early 1860s. All Dalton's Royal Photographic Gallery.

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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