[Sir Hubert von Herkomer, painter.] Five illustrated items designed by him for his private Wagnerian theatre: invitation to 'The Sorceress'; prospectus, libretto and invitation card for his 'Pictorial-Music-Play' 'An Idyl'; and Christmas card.

Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914), German-born British painter admired by Van Gogh [Joseph Bennett; Edward Dalziel (1817-1905), wood engraver; Dorothy Dene (1859-1899), actress; Lululaund, Bushey]
Publication details: 
The Herkomer Theatre [on the Lululaund Estate], Bushey, Hertfordshire. 1889 and 1890. [Items printed by Novello, Ewer, and Co. of London, and R. and R. Clark of Edinburgh.]
SKU: 14410

In addition to his pioneering cinematographic work, Herkomer was a theatrical innovator. As Lynda Nead points out in her 'The Haunted Gallery' (Yale, 2007), it was shortly after the opening of his art school that 'he and his students created an auditorium, modelled on Wagner's Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, for public performances of plays, written, directed and, indeed, performed by Herkomer'. See also M. A. K. Taylor, 'The New Stagecraft' (1953); J. Stokes, 'Resistible Theatres' (1972); and L. M. Edwards, 'Herkomer: A Victorian Artist' (1999). These five items all relate to the project. They are attractively designed by Herkomer (two featuring self-portraits by him in character), and are all excessively scarce pieces of ephemera. Item Four is printed in brown ink, the other four are printed in black. ONE (invitation card for 'The Sorceress'): On one side of a piece of 20 x 31 cm card, folded vertically into three panels. In good condition, on aged paper, with slight spotting and a short closed tear. With lithographic engraving of carved wood panelling (by Herkomer?). Text reads (with manuscript additions in square brackets): 'Professor Hubert Herkomer and his Pupils request the honour of [Mr. E. Dalziel's] Company on [Tuesday. May 1st. 1888] at half past two o'clock at their performance of "The Sorceress": A Romantic Fragment, in their New Theatre, Bushey, Herts. | Prof. Herkomer's own Studios and Workshops will be open for inspection after the Performance which will last a little over an hour. | The "Herkomer School" will also be open for inspection. | The Performance commences precisely at three o'clock when the doors will be closed.' And embedded in the engraving: 'An early answer is requested | Addressed to D. J. Williams, | Secretary, Dyreham, | Bushey, Herts.' and 'Stage and Auditorium, Lighted entirely by Electricity.' With attached printed label, headed: 'Please ask at Euston Station for the HERKOMER TRAIN, which is a SPECIAL TRAIN for these Performances.', and giving the departure (Euston, Loudoun Road, Willesden, Bushey) and return times. TWO (libretto of 'An Idyl'): 16pp., 4to, printed on good laid paper, stitched, and loosely inserted in wraps with engraved cover by Herkomer, carrying title ' "An Idyl," | A Pictorial-Music-Play, | [in three Acts] | Composed by | Hubert Herkomer, | With lyrics by | Joseph Bennett.' In good condition, on aged paper. The first page carries the 'Dramatis Personae', headed by 'John, the Swift . . . Professor HERKOMER' and with 'Edith, the Smith's Daughter . Miss DOROTHY DENE' and 'Meg, the Servant-Maid in John's house Miss FLORENCE WILSON | (Of the Carl Rosa Light Opera Company)'. The 'Argument', in black letter type, is on pp.2-7, and pp.9-16 carry the 'Lyrics | (BY JOSEPH BENNETT)'. Slug: 'Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.' On the cover is a striking and attractive 15 x 20 cm mezzotint engraving by Herkomer, signed on the plate 'H H 89', showing a bearded old man in medieval robes (a self-portrait of Herkomer as 'John, the Swift'), seated in a wooden chair, clasping the hand of a young woman (Dorothy Dene as 'Edith, the Smith's Daughter') at his right, their heads together. While copies of the score, published by Novello in 1891, are relatively common, this item is scarce, with one copy listed (V & A) on COPAC. THREE (invitation card for 'An Idyl'): On one side of a 17 x 20.5 cm card, with perforated right-hand edge. In good condition, on aged paper. Text enclosed within engraved illustration by Herkomer ('H H 89'), showing two of the muses, headed by 'THE HERKOMER THEATRE | BUSHEY, HERTS'. 'Mr. Edward Dalziel -' in manuscript at the head, and with the date filled in. The text reads: 'Prof. Herkomer & his Pupils request the honour of your Company on [Wednesday] the [5th.] of June at 2.30 punctually, when there will be performed an entirely New & Original Pictorial-Music-Play, entitled "An Idyl," composed by Hubert Herkomer, with Lyrics by Joseph Bennett. | Conductor of Orchestra, - Dr. Hans Richter. | (by kind permission of Mr. N. Vert.) | AN EARLY ANSWER WILL GREATLY OBLIGE. | ADDRESS: - | D. J. Williams, | Dyreham, - Bushey | Herts'. FOUR (prospectus for 'An Idyl'): Text and engraved illustration (of Herkomer as 'John, the Swift' and a younger man) printed in brown on one side of a 32.5 x 24.5 cm piece of paper, headed 'PROSPECTUS.' The enclosed text reading: 'An Idyl | A Pictorial-Music-Play | The Music Composed | (And the Play Illustrated) | BY | Hubert Herkomer, R.A. | THE LYRICS | BY | Joseph Bennett.' At foot: 'LONDON & NEW YORK, | Novello, Ewer and Co.' The reverse carries the following: 'LONDON: NOVELLO, EWER AND CO. | PRINTERS.' and 'The Paper upon which this Prospectus is printed will be used for all Copies of the Work.' In good condition, on aged paper folded twice. Reproduced, facing p.136, in Herkomer's 'My School and My Gospel' (1908). FIVE (Christmas card): Printed 18 x 11.5 cm Christmas card by Herkomer ('H H 89'), with illustration of 'MUMMERS in "AN IDYL."' With a few bars of music ('The King a royale Christmas kept with mirth and princlye cheer') and the message 'With Prof: and Mrs. Hubert Herkomer's Compliments of the Season. | Bushey, Herts. | 1889.' In very good condition, on lightly-aged paper. No copies of these items found on COPAC except the libretto of 'An Idyl' (V & A only).