Theatre poster for Henry Pettitt and Augustus Harris' melodrama Human Nature
Drury Lane Theatre, London
Museum no. S.9-1983
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This is one of two different pictorial posters that advertised Human Nature, one of Drury Lane’s autumn melodramas presented by Augustus Harris. These late 19th-century Drury Lane melodramas were spectacular affairs with improbable plots, with posters reflecting key dramatic moments. Here, the wronged wife Lady Temple is seen pleading with the manipulative schemer Cora Grey, who reclines on a chaise longue. A copy of the Lady's Pictorial lies on the floor beside her, indicating that a woman who has time to read illustrated magazines must be up to no good. To emphasise the point, the artist has included Lady Temple's pleading words 'Give me back my husband'. The introduction of lithography for posters meant that artists could reproduce freely drawn images, impossible with the earlier wood-engravings. This type of image still has the feeling of a book illustration though, in contrast to the bolder, more uncomplicated poster style of later poster artists such as Dudley Hardy and John Hassall.