London: 1913. Absolutely charming original artwork painted on silk squares illustrating plays from the London stage with anthropomorphic penguins as characters. At this time, the Antarctic was foremost in the British mind, as Robert Scott and his companions had perished tragically in March 1912. The artist is listed on the lower left corner as an unknown "E. L. P. S." and dated 1913 on the lower right corner.
The four images play on the titles of four plays:- "Our Miss Gibbs"; "Charley's Aunt"; "The Whip" and "The Hope". The most successful commercially seems to have been "Charley's Aunt"; it was first performed in February 1892 and broke the historic record for longest-running play worldwide, running for 1,466 performances. (Wikipedia). A farce whose plot includes impersonating the Aunt and a fortune hunter is illustrated by a stout older female penguin with an elaborate purple hat with green feathers, with her green parasol and book of Hymns. The penguin men are watching her. A smiling red sun is sinking below the horizon.
"Our Miss Gibbs" pictures a tall male penguin with a dashing green hat, complete with long red feather, holding the hands of two child penguins, dressed as a girl (holding a penguin doll) and a boy, holding a whip. This does not seem to bear any relation to the plot- a Yorkshire lass working at "Garrods" in London, who is deemed an unsuitable match for the son of an Earl who is slumming it working as a bank clerk. The play debuted in 1909.
"The Hope" shows a mother penguin carrying her shopping basket (complete with fish), wearing a straw bonnet and holding the hand of her son who is vibrantly dressed in red, yellow and green, holding the string to a polar bear pull toy. There was a play in London called "The Fighting Hope", a 1908 play by William J. Hurlbut that was produced by David Belasco, but although the date is in the correct period, bears absolutely no resemblance to the plot of a man convicted of fraud and the wife who believes he is innocent.
"The Whip" debuted at the Drury Lane Theatre in London in 1909. The play's original production had intricate scenery and spectacular stage effects, including a horse race and a train crash. There is no trace of that here- predictably, a penguin school master is about to cane a young scholar, whose cap and book "Caesar Gallic War" have fallen to the ground.
Gouache on four silk squares, 4 1/2 x 5 1/2" plus fringe; very good condition, some with slight loss on the intense black. Very good condition. Item #24863