Clown on the Thames, around 1840. Musuem no. RP76/1539

Clown on the Thames, around 1840. Musuem no. RP76/1539

Clown on the Thames
Around 1840
Steel engraving printed on newsprint
Musuem no. RP76/1539

Thomas Barry was a popular circus clown who worked for Astley's in the 1840s and 1850s. As well as sailing down the Thames in a tub, Barry was famous for his imitation of a would-be politician making his campaign speech to the public. He and his fellow clowns performed during the other acts. He also played comic parts in the dramatic productions that were always a part of  the evening's schedule. As was traditional, Barry worked with other clowns. His partners at Astley's included Twist, a buffoon, and Signor Felix Carlo, a 'grotesque'. He was a cheerful, friendly  man, offstage as well as on, and well liked by his colleagues. He did, however, fall out with Philip Astley, and in 1853 he left  Astley's for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.