Cleveland: W.J. Morgan & Co. Lith. [ca.1892]. 28 x 42 1/2 inches (71 x 108 cm). First edition. A very good copy, restored at the edges, some uneven toning (Condition B+). Item #43294
Large, three panel poster, with the central image showing the great Forum scene, in which Virginius stabs his daughter in order to save her from being given as a slave to Appius Claudius, flanked by smaller panels of Virginius alone with his daughter.
Frederick Barkham Warde (1851-1935), an English born American actor, came to America in 1874, joined Edwin Booth's company, and In 1881 formed a touring company of his own. "Warde represented a specific type of touring actor popular at the end of the nineteenth century. Purveyors of an old-fashioned tradition of acting and a well-worn repertory, these traveling tragedians carried familiar material far and wide into the American provinces... His classical productions were particularly admired by provincial reviewers. Indeed, it was Warde's scholarly approach to Shakespeare's plays that distinguished him from other second-rank tragedians of his day. In 1892 he formed a three-year partnership with Louis James, another actor who had found his greatest success outside New York City, and appeared in eighty-six cities with a familiar classical repertory," (Kristan A. Tetens. "Warde, Frederick Barkham" ANBO anb.org/articles/18/18-01210.html).
This poster was most likely produced shortly before or at the beginning of this period. As one reviewer wrote a few years later: "Most playgoers have seen Sheridan Knowles' Virginius often, but can never grow tired of the play when in the hands of so efficient a company as Mr. Warde's. The Virginius of Frederick Warde seems to grow every year in strength, and the performance last night was simply magnificent. Mr. Warde's impersonation was grand 'and not a word or a gesture of his was lost by the audience who throughout were in the closest sympathy both with the actor and the man... It would be difficult to improve on Mr. Warde's scenic mounting of Virginius. Not only are the smallest details accurately attended to, but some remarkably fine stage pictures are given. For grand effect the scenes in the forum and the Roman camp have never been surpassed at this theater" (Los Angeles Herald, Volume 45, Number 131, 19 February 1896 p. 7).
Warde "was one of the first old-style tragedians to make the leap into the brave new world of motion pictures. In 1912 Warde directed and starred in Richard III, the first feature film adaptation of a Shakespearean work. His subsequent films included a much-acclaimed King Lear (1916) and nine other feature-length movies, including screen versions of Silas Marner (1916) and The Vicar of Wakefield (1917).... If Warde lacked the spark of genius that would have catapulted him into the first rank of American tragedians, he nevertheless represented a tradition of acting that had a profound and long-lasting influence on the American theater outside the cosmopolitan centers of the East," (ANBO).
Rare. Posters and photographs of Warde are scarce. We could locate no copies of this poster. The Library of Congress' Theatrical Poster Collection has a few later color posters for Runneymede and one black and white of Warde and Louis James. The Folger has two photographs: a portrait and one in costume as Rinaldo. There is a cabinet card at Berkeley. His film performances are available on DVD at Kino and The Thanhouser Collection.