Laurence Irving is the son of Henry Irving, the famous actor and theater owner who inspired one of Bram Stoker’s characters in Dracula (and for whom Bram Stoker worked). Laurence had a short life and tragic end, perishing in 1914 in a maritime disaster on the St. Lawrence River (an irony that I’m sure was lost on him). I’m guessing that in this photo he must have been in his 20s, so this would have been taken sometime in the 1890s.
Also fascinating is the photographers’ description of the studio address: 20 UPPER Baker Street, 20 doors north of Baker Street Station. Which puts it across the street more or less from 227 B Baker Street, the fictive home of Sherlock Holmes.
I have a photo of his father, Henry Irving, already in my collection:
Here is Henry Irving, the celebrated English thespian, who owned and operated the Lyceum Theater in London. He was the first actor ever to receive knighthood. He hired Bram Stoker to be his stage manager at the Lyceum, and is allegedly the inspiration for the stage manager character in Stoker’s Dracula novel (a character notably absent from all the Dracula movies).
You’ll notice on the verso of the carte the coat-of-arms for the Order of the Garter. From my biographical research on Mr’s Elliot & Fry, they ran a very successful high-end studio in London, doing portraits of public and social, artistic, scientific and political eminences of the Victorian era. The studio operated for over 100 years before being bought out by another notable photographic firm. Most of their negatives were lost during the bombings of London in WW II. Neither Mr. Elliot or Mr. Fry were members of the Order, so the logo on their card must have been a sales pitch to their clientele to suggest the status by association. For those not in the know, the Order of the Garter is the highest possible social honor one can receive from the Queen of England. At any moment in time there are no more than 24 members of the order plus the Queen/King and the Prince of Wales. Membership is by nomination from current members, and at a minimum qualification you must already be knighted by the Queen.