Poster for the Avenue Theatre
The Victorian theatrical world was dominated by actor-managers who ran theatres. Most of them were men. One exception was the writer, producer, and performer Florence Farr, a “New Woman” who worked with numerous playwrights, including George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950). She employed Beardsley to design a poster to advertise a double bill she was directing on 29 March 1894 at the Avenue Theatre: A Comedy of Sighs by John Todhunter (1839–1916) and The Land of Heart’s Desire by William Butler Yeats (1865–1939), both Irish authors. Under the influence of French poster art and Japanese prints, Beardsley created an image that scandalized passersby in London. Its central figure was clearly no lady—uncorseted, with loose hair, and with her clothes slipping off her shoulders. It was also arrestingly modern, almost abstract, with striking use not of Beardsley’s characteristic black-and-white, but color.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press