Thursday, February 16, 2012

Antique Image of the Day: The Devil's Forge, 1903

Poster for "The Devil's Forge"
London, 1903
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This handsome poster depicts the famed dancer Edie Slack in the role of the Sixteenth-Century sword maker Karl, from the second scene of the ballet “The Devil's Forge.”  The moment shows  Karl thrusting his sword into the fire and the stream in a mystic cave to make it invincible. Theis well-received ballet was first performed at London's Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, in January of 1903.

An exceptional color lithograph, this poster shows Edie Slack as an auburn-haired female warrior brandishing a rapier in her right hand, her left hand on her hip.  Her fiery hair is accentuated by the flames leaping from the bottom left-hand corner of the poster.  The name of the theatre “ALHAMBRA” is in the top left-hand corner in white upper-case lettering, and the name of the production “THE DEVIL'S FORGE” is shown in white upper-case lettering at the bottom right corner.

This was printed for the opening of the ballet in 1903 by Weiner's Ltd.

Punch Magazine (also known as The London Charivari) of 21 January 1903 mentioned the show:

AT the Alhambra the plot of the new ballet, The Devil's Forge, will remind veteran opera-goers of Der Freischiitz, and the younger generation of Siegfried. But the scene in the cavern of the mountain witch, where the three army corps of flame, frost and water fairies are manoeuvred with the utmost precision and great kaleidoscopic splendour, owes nothing to WEBER or WAGNER. Miss EDIE SLACK, as that dashing young blade, Karl, excellent in a Romeo costume; Mile. AI.MA MARI, as the Mountain Fairy, gives an excellent imitation of an animated pair of compasses. Music by Mr. GEORGE BYXI;, of the sumptuous and sonorous type. For the rest one can take trips to Fez or the Moon, per Bioscope, or watch the NOLSET Troupe noisey in nature as in name perform their astonishing feat of 'Circling the Circ.' Squaring the circle is nothing to the achievement of this amazing quartet of cyclists, who climb into a large skeleton bottomless bucket, so to speak, and then proceed, all four of them, to race, full tilt round the inner sides to the bucket, which is gradually hoisted up twenty feet into the air.

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