Skip to main content

Francis S. Chanfrau

Mathew Brady Studio, active 1844 - 1894
Francis S. Chanfrau, 22 Feb 1824 - 2 Oct 1884
Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative
Image: 8.7 x 5.7cm (3 7/16 x 2 1/4")
Sheet: 12.4 x 9.7cm (4 7/8 x 3 13/16")
Mat: 35.6 x 27.9cm (14 x 11")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born New York City
Frank Chanfrau was one of the great American comic actors of the mid-nineteenth century. A skillful mimic who first gained notice for his clever impersonations of Edwin Forrest and other theatrical stars, Chanfrau achieved instant celebrity in 1848 when he premiered the role of Mose the Fireboy in A Glance at New York-Benjamin Baker's rollicking comedy about the escapades of a streetwise volunteer fireman. Chanfrau's subsequent tours of this production and his appearances in the numerous sequels that it spawned made him one of the most popular stage performers of his day. Identified almost exclusively with the role of Mose for nearly twenty years, Chanfrau appeared in the title roles of several other successful comedies, including Kit, the Arkansas Traveler, after becoming too old to play the youthful and athletic firefighter that had been the centerpiece of his career.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection