Not currently on display at the V&A

Poster

1903 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This poster depicts the dancer Edie Slack as the sixteenth-century sword maker Karl, in the triumphant pose from the second scene of the ballet The Devil's Forge, after he has plunged his sword into the fire and the stream in a mystic cave to make it invincible. The ballet was first performed at London's Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, 12 January 1903, as one item on the bill which included Variety acts and a longer ballet.

From the age of five Edith Slack trained as a dancer with Katti Lanner, and while serving her apprenticeship she danced in Lanner's ballets at Crystal Palace, the Aquarium and the Empire Theatre. Between 1900 and 1906 she was a leading dancer at the Alhambra, frequently playing so-called 'travesty' roles of men played by women. At a time when no respectable woman showed more than a glimpse of ankle under her long skirts, this theatrical display of female leg was an extra attraction for many gentlemen to patronise ballets at the Alhambra Theatre.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Printed paper
Brief Description
Poster advertising The Devil's Forge, a 'legendary ballet' in 2 scenes by Charles Wilson at London's Alhambra Theatre, first performed 12 January 1903, depicting Edie Slack as Karl. Colour lithograph by Weiner's Ltd., London, 1903. Harry Beard Collection.
Physical Description
Colour lithograph poster of a night scene representing an auburn-haired female warrior as played by Edie Slack standing in the open air with a waterfall behind her brandishing a rapier in her right hand, her left hand on her hip, lit by flames leaping from the bottom left-hand corner of the poster. She is dressed as an abundantly feminine mediaeval-style knight in parti-coloured red and yellow tights, the yellow leg with a black stripe down it, the red with a black garter on her thigh; red sleeves over red fleshings, a gold breast-plate gleaming in the light of the flames, accentuating the nipped-in waist, and deliocate shoes fastened with a bow and quite unsuited to battle. She wears a large soft red hat decorated with a single feather attached by a jewel at the centre front; silver chain-mail gauntlets, and has a purse and dagger attached from a cord around her waist. 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 in white upper-case lettering, bottom right corner.
Dimensions
  • Height: 75.5cm
  • Width: 50.4cm
Credit line
Harry R. Beard Collection
Object history
The 2-act ballet The Devil's Forge was the first item on the programme at the Alhambra Theatre in a programme which included other variety acts including a sketch by Pelissier's Follies, a magic act by Le Roy, Talma and Bosco, Will Mora's 'gymnastic absurdity' act and The Imperial Bioscope. The 5-scene 'grand ballet' Carmen was the main attraction, adapted by Charles Wilson from the novel by Prosper Merimee.
Production
The printer' location is noted on the poster as 'London NW'
Summary
This poster depicts the dancer Edie Slack as the sixteenth-century sword maker Karl, in the triumphant pose from the second scene of the ballet The Devil's Forge, after he has plunged his sword into the fire and the stream in a mystic cave to make it invincible. The ballet was first performed at London's Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, 12 January 1903, as one item on the bill which included Variety acts and a longer ballet.



From the age of five Edith Slack trained as a dancer with Katti Lanner, and while serving her apprenticeship she danced in Lanner's ballets at Crystal Palace, the Aquarium and the Empire Theatre. Between 1900 and 1906 she was a leading dancer at the Alhambra, frequently playing so-called 'travesty' roles of men played by women. At a time when no respectable woman showed more than a glimpse of ankle under her long skirts, this theatrical display of female leg was an extra attraction for many gentlemen to patronise ballets at the Alhambra Theatre.
Bibliographic Reference
Punch, or the London Charivari, 21 January 1903
Other Number
f.78-87 - H Beard collection numbering
Collection
Accession Number
S.122-2007

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record createdJune 15, 2007
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