Dudley Hardy (English, 1867-1922) Original Poster for A Gaiety Girl 1893-94
Color lithograph on cream wove paper
Dudley Hardy made his name originally as a painter and illustrator. His bold venture into poster design in the 1890s gave him scope for all sorts of unconventional ideas. Although he was influenced by designers of the French 'artistic' poster, such as Jules Chéret, he developed a characteristically English approach with his simplified style and integrated lettering. After his initial success with a poster nicknamed 'The Yellow Girl', advertising the To-Day magazine, many of his earliest posters were commissioned for theatrical productions by the well-known firm of publishers Waterlow & Sons.
One of a series, this one celebrated the actual play that capitalized on the increasing fame of the Gaiety Girls. Eventually the productions in which these beauties appeared became known as the premiere matrimonial agency for the aristocracy. Not a few of these famous beauties became Duchesses and Marchionesses and the like. Most "did well".
Much reproduced , an actual original poster is pretty rare. Framed it measures 20 1/8" x 31", the art is 19" x 29 3/4". In excellent condition.
A Gaiety Girl is an English musical comedy in two acts by a team of musical comedy neophytes: Owen Hall (book, on an outline by James T. Tanner), Harry Greenbank (lyrics) and Sidney Jones (music). It opened at Prince of Wales Theatre in London, produced by George Edwardes, on 14 October 1893 (later transferring to Daly's Theatre) and ran for 413 performances. Percy Anderson designed the Japanese costumes for the musical, while the non-Japanese costumes were supplied by leading fashion houses. It also had a successful three-month Broadway run in 1894, followed by an American tour and a world tour.
A Gaiety Girl followed Tanner's and Edwardes's success with In Town (1892), and would lead to a series of musicals produced by Edwardes that would pack the Gaiety Theatre for decades. Although the earliest of these shows have the same sound one expects from Gilbert and Sullivan's operas, Edwardes called them "musical comedies", leading some writers to incorrectly credit him with inventing a form that Harrigan & Hart had established on Broadway a decade earlier. Although Edwardes was not the true inventor of musical comedy, he was the first to elevate these works to international popularity. According to musical theatre writer Andrew Lamb, "The British Empire and America began to fall for the appeal of the British musical comedy from the time when A Gaiety Girl was taken on a world tour in 1894."
The plot of A Gaiety Girl is a simple intrigue about a stolen comb and includes a few tangled romances. Hall's satirical book includes lines which jab at society conventions in the style of an upmarket gossip columnist. The smart society back-chat irritated several people in high places in London who wrote to Edwardes asking for alterations. The public, on the other hand, loved it..