Theatre poster for William Shakespeare's Macbeth
His Majesty's Theatre, London
Illustration by Edmund Dulac (1882-1953
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This poster for Macbeth at His Majesty’s Theatre, 1911, was by the French illustrator, artist and designer Edmund Dulac, who was more famous for his fairy tale illustration. Unlike the simple, flat poster style popular in the 1890s, this poster is more three dimensional, like a book illustration. Nevertheless it is still effective and mysterious, using subdued colouring and an unusual viewpoint to draw in the onlooker. Macbeth stands in side view, his cloak billowing in the wind, but our attention is drawn to faces of the witches illuminated by the smoke of their cauldron. The hands of the witch in the foreground and the gaze of Macbeth lead to the billowing white smoke which is the focal point of the poster, contrasting with the surrounding sombre blues and blacks. Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the manager of His Majesty’s Theatre, who commissioned this poster, wanted the best possible publicity for his productions and regularly also commissioned Charles Buchel for his posters and publicity.