Not currently on display at the V&A

Souvenir cutout of Bertha Lewis as Lady Jane in Patience

Souvenir
1922
Artist/Maker

Souvenir figures such as this became popular in the 1920s, apparently after a set representing dancers with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes Company were issued by Cyril Beaumont. He had the idea in about 1914 to produce them from artwork representing the dancers in costume, hoping they would: 'supply the demand for something between a photograph and a statuette'. A 1928 catalogue of Beaumont's publications notes: 'The figures, which are of wood, average 8¾ inches high, and are hand-coloured with special care to ensure accuracy of costume. The black stands on which the figures are mounted are easily removable to afford facility in packing. The figures are priced at 7s.6d. net.'

This figure of Bertha Lewis is one of several representing singers in roles they played with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company productions in its 1921 to 1922 season at London's Princes Theatre. They were reproduced from photographs and would have been issued in 1922 by the Artograph Technical and Photographic Company, located at 16, Grape Street, New Oxford Street, behind the Princes Theatre.

Bertha Lewis has been credited as the greatest contralto who ever worked with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. Born in London, she studied music at London's Royal Academy of Music before joining the Principal Repertory Company aged nineteen in August 1905, playing Kate in The Pirates of Penzance, Saphir in Patience, Leila in Iolanthe and Vittoria in The Gondoliers. In July 1909 she replaced Ethel Morrison as principal contralto but left in 1910 when she married and toured the country appearing in concerts and opera. She rejoined the D'Oyly Carte in December 1914 and stayed with them until her death at the age of thirty three, on 8th May 1931 in a car accident near Cambridge where the company was appearing.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.
(Some alternative part names are also shown below)
  • Souvenirs
  • Figures
  • Cutouts
  • Bases
TitleSouvenir cutout of Bertha Lewis as Lady Jane in Patience (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Photographic paper on plywood
Brief description
Souvenir plywood cutout figure with wooden stand of Bertha Lewis (1887-1931) as Lady Jane in Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan with the D'Oyly Carte Company during their season at the Princes Theatre London, 3rd October 1921 to 8th April 1922. Produced by the Artograph Company, 1922.
Physical description
S.1067:1-2021
Plywood cutout figure of Bertha Lewis in Patience

S.1067:2-2021
Wooden base for the figure
Dimensions
  • Height: 18.8cm (maximum height of figure)
  • Width: 9.10cm (maximum width of figure)
  • Depth: 0.3cm (maximum depth of figure)
  • Height: 0.4cm (height of base)
  • Width: 9.10cm (width of base)
  • Depth: 3.0cm (depth of base)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Peter Parker
Object history
This cutout figure, one of thirteen similar items in this bequest, was inherited by Peter Parker, along with a quantity of other objects related to the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, from his father Stanley H. Parker (d.1960). Stanley Parker was employed by the Savoy Hotel as a junior clerk in May 1909, straight from school. From that job, on the death of Helen D'Oyly Carte in 1913, he was appointed by Rupert D'Oyly Carte to understudy George A. Richardson who managed the theatre from November 1911 to February 1915. In 1913 Stanley H. Parker became Rupert and (later) Bridget D'Oyly Carte's private secretary, also secretary of both the Savoy Theatre Ltd., and the Opera Company. He worked for the company for 51 years, until his death in 1960.

This was subsequently part of Peter Parker's bequest to the V&A.
Summary
Souvenir figures such as this became popular in the 1920s, apparently after a set representing dancers with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes Company were issued by Cyril Beaumont. He had the idea in about 1914 to produce them from artwork representing the dancers in costume, hoping they would: 'supply the demand for something between a photograph and a statuette'. A 1928 catalogue of Beaumont's publications notes: 'The figures, which are of wood, average 8¾ inches high, and are hand-coloured with special care to ensure accuracy of costume. The black stands on which the figures are mounted are easily removable to afford facility in packing. The figures are priced at 7s.6d. net.'

This figure of Bertha Lewis is one of several representing singers in roles they played with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company productions in its 1921 to 1922 season at London's Princes Theatre. They were reproduced from photographs and would have been issued in 1922 by the Artograph Technical and Photographic Company, located at 16, Grape Street, New Oxford Street, behind the Princes Theatre.

Bertha Lewis has been credited as the greatest contralto who ever worked with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. Born in London, she studied music at London's Royal Academy of Music before joining the Principal Repertory Company aged nineteen in August 1905, playing Kate in The Pirates of Penzance, Saphir in Patience, Leila in Iolanthe and Vittoria in The Gondoliers. In July 1909 she replaced Ethel Morrison as principal contralto but left in 1910 when she married and toured the country appearing in concerts and opera. She rejoined the D'Oyly Carte in December 1914 and stayed with them until her death at the age of thirty three, on 8th May 1931 in a car accident near Cambridge where the company was appearing.
Associated objects
Collection
Accession number
S.1067:1 to 2-2021

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Record createdSeptember 6, 2021
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