The large hand-painted theatre canvas backdrop on canvas linen, in shades of ivories and greys, depicting a large carved white marble classical urn, in the Robert Adam manner, being swagged and with a central cartouche with acorn finial, to angular handles and a scalloped base and set against a ruled inner border to a chocolate brown outer, the whole at over seven feet high and signed ‘S De C’, surviving from the first half of the twentieth century.
The work shows numerous areas of staining, paint loss, scuffs, scratches, discolouration, areas of staining, and fraying at the edge of the canvas on all sides, but there are no tears or punctures; with the whole remaining beautifully decorative.
Beautifully hand crafted in the early to middle part of the twentieth century, this backdrop would possibly have been an ever present at the start of productions for each and every production in the particular theatre, with it being part of a larger composition (?). The signature to the right is clear but we cannot find any further information on the artist.
The major battle of romanticism in France was fought in the theatre. The early years of the century were marked by a revival of classicism and classical-inspired tragedies, often with themes of national sacrifice or patriotic heroism in keeping with the spirit of the Revolution, but the production of Victor Hugo's Hernani in 1830 marked the triumph of the romantic movement on the stage. By the middle of the century, theatre began to reflect more and more a realistic tendency, associated with Naturalism. These tendencies can be seem in the theatrical melodramas of the period and, in an even more lurid and gruesome light, in the Grand Guignol at the end of the century. Also popular were the operettas, farces and comedies of Ludovic Halévy, Henri Meilhac, and, at the turn of the century, Georges Feydeau.