Apr 2–Apr 20, 1974

Avant Garde in Theatre: French Playbills of the 1890s

Henri Gabriel Ibels, Le Grapin and L’Affranchie by Gaston Salandri and Maurice Biolley, 1st Spectacle, 1892-93, 1892.

  • Henri Gabriel Ibels, Le Grapin and L’Affranchie by Gaston Salandri and Maurice Biolley, 1st Spectacle, 1892-93, 1892.

  • Edouard Vuillard, Théâtre de L’Oeuvre, La Vie Muette by Maurice Beaubourg, Nouveau Théâtre, 11/27/94, (Roger-Marx 20), 1894.

  • Alexandre Charpentier, Nell Horn by M. Rosny, 6th Spectacle, 1890.

  • George Auriol, L’Anneau de Cakuntala by Kalidasa, 1895

  • Henri de Groux, Morituri ou les Loups by Romain Rolland (using the pseudonym of Saint Just), 1898

  • Alexandre Charpentier, La Dupe and Son Petit Coeur by Georges Ancey and Louis Marsolleau Saison, 1891-92, 1891.

  • Jean Louis Forain, Un Journée Parlementaire by Maurice Barrés, 4th Spectacle, 1893.

  • Paul Seruisier, L’Assomption de Hannele Mattern and En L’Attendeant by Gerhart Hauptmann and Jean Thorel-Léon, Roux, 3rd Spectacle,* 1893-94.

  • Jean Francois Raffaelli.

  • Maurice Denis, Théâtre de L’Oeuvre, La Scéne, La Vérité dans le Vin, and Interieur by Charles Colle, Tristan Bernard, and Maurice Maeterlinck, Nouveau Théâtre, 3/15/95, 1895.

  • Louis Anquetin, La Fille d’Artaban, La Nébuleuse and Dialogue Inconnu bu Alfred Mortier, Louis Dumur and Alfred de Vigny, 5th Spectacle, 1895.

  • Maurice Denis, La Motte de Terre and Au-delà des Forces Humaines by Louis Dumur and Bjornstjerne Bjornson, (translated by Count Prozor), Nouveau Théâtre, 1/16/97, 1897.

  • Jean Francois Raffaelli, La Patrie en Danger by Edmond de Concourt, 3/19/89, 1989.

  • Josef Sattler, Historique du Théâtre de l’Oeuvre Saison 1895-96, 1895.

  • Henri de Groux, Programme du Théâtre Libre, 1888.

  • Jehan Georges Vibert, Une Mere by Ameen.

  • Edouard Vuillard, Program for Théâtre Libre production of Q’Amant da sa Femme, M. Brute, and La Belle Operation, 1890-91, 1890.

  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, De Théâtre de l’Oeuvre, Prospectus Program, 1895-96.

  • Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry, Nouveau Théâtre, 12/10/96, 1896.

  • Paul Signac La Chance de Francoise, La Mort du D’Enghien and Le Cor Fleuri by Léon Hennique, George de Porto-Riche, and Ephraim Mikhael, Théâtre des Menus Plaisirs, 12/10/88, 1888.

  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, L’Argent by Emile Fabre, Print entitled Un Monsieur et Une Dame, 1893.

  • Alfonse Osbert, Inceste d’Ames and Mineur et Soldat bu Jean Laurenty, Fernand Hauser and Jean Malafayde, 4th Spectacle, 1895.

  • Henri Gabriel Ibels, Le Grapin and L’Affranchie by Gaston Salandri and Maurice Biolley, 1st Spectacle, 1892-93, 1892.

  • Henri Riviere, Pain d’Autroi by Armand Ephraim, (translated from a Russian play by Torgeuneff), and En D’tresse by Willy Shutz and Henry Favre.

  • Auguste Rodin, Le Repas du Lion by François de Curel, 11/26/97, 1897.

  • Pierre Bonnard, La Dernière Croissade and L’Errante by Maxime Gray and Pierre Quillard, Nouveau Théâtre, 4/22/96, 1896.

  • Edvard Munch, Théâtre de L’Oeuvre, Jean Gabriel Borkman by Henrik Ibsen (translated by Count Prozor), Nouveau Théâtre, 11/9/97, 1897.

  • Edouard Vuillard Théâtre de L’Oeuvre, Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen, Translated by Count Prozor Bouffes du Nord, 10/6/93, 1893.

  • Rene-Georges Hermann-Paul, Le Brebis and Le Tandem by Edmund See, Leo Trezenik and Pierre Soulaine, Nouveau Théâtre, 5/29/96, 1896.

  • Abel Truchet, La Fumée, puis la Flamme by Joseph Caraguel, 1895.

  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Le Missionnaire by Marcel Luguet, Print entitled La Loge au Mascaroni Dore, 1894.

  • Jehan Georges, Vibert La Victoire by Saint-Georges de Bouhelier, Bouffes-Parisiens Theatre, 6/20/98, 1898.

  • Lucien Métivet, Portrait of André Antoine from Randolph Darzens’ Le Théâtre Libre Illustré, 1890.

  • This exhibition focuses on the relationship between Post-Impressionsit artists and the avant-garde theatre in France in the late nineteenth century. The style of the playbills reflects the differences between the realism of the Theatre Libre, as seen in the programs designed by Lautrec and Ibels, and the symbolic idealization of the plays of the Theatre l’Oeuvre, as seen in the playbills designed by Denis and Serusier. The seventy-six lithographs that comprise the exhibition also include works by Signac, Charpentier, Rodin, Bonnard, Munch, Vuillard, and Jarry.

    The exhibition illuminates the collaboration between the young avant-garde artists and the anti-establishment theatre at a point of great vitality in both the visual arts and the theatre, and at a time when original print-making was having an important revival. It was, above all, the technical advances in both print-makinng and stagecraft that made these playbills possible. A renewed interest in the graphic arts, after Cheret popularized the medium of color lithography for poster art, led theatre producers to use these original prints for their programs. In the theatre, there were improvements in lighting, color, fabrics, and the use of new materials which combined to give a new sense of physical reality to the stage.

    The exhibition includes the theatre program for Alfred Jarry’s famous Symbolist satire on the human race, Ubu Ropi. Lautrec’s lithograph for the play* L’Argent*, at the Theatre Libre is a strong reflection of the school of naturalist acting. The powerful lithograph shows a woman and men with their backs turned to the viewer as they exit through a door on the right. It was an innovation for actors at the Theatre Libre to speak some of their lines with their backs turned to the audience.

    In the lithograph for the Ibsen play, Jean Gabriel Borkman, Munch stresses a feeling of uneasy and restless energy in his portrait of the playwright. The remainder of the design is filled in with a vast and lonely landscape, reflecting how Munch described the play: “The finest projection of a winter landscape in Norwegian art.”

    Thje playbills were usually printed on a single sheet of paper about the size of a placemat. It may have been folded in half. On the front would have been a lithograph, illustrating the play. On the back would probably have been a rundown of the scenes and cast.

    This exhibition, lent by the Atlas Foundation and sponsored by the Washington Print Club, is circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.