Atlas Obscura Just posted a feature on “gloriously melodramatic” Shakespearean actor portraits dating back over a Century ago.
Studio portraits were self-promotional tools which often depicted actors in a dramatic pose, against a backdrop of scenery. This may be my favorite I’ve seen (tied with the one above):
While some of them are humorous, they do serve the purpose of demonstrating an actor is capable of the exaggerated expressions necessary to convey emotion from a stage (or grainy film).
The male character portraits seem more entertainingly dramatic, but you can see some ladies over at Atlas Obscura too.