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Theatrical Scenery Painting and Painters

Scenery and Scene Painters, the ERA 1866 - Art on the Stage, Building News 1881

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A GOSSIP ABOUT SCENERY AND SCENE-PAINTERS

From the ERA, 4th of February 1866

At a season when thousands of spectators, not only in the Metropolis, but in the chief towns of the United Kingdom, are nightly calling into their presence the scenic artist, who has conjured up before them landscapes of surpassing beauty or fairy palaces of dazzling grandeur and apparently interminable development, it will be an appropriate time to look back on the early years of that art which in our own day has been recognised as so essential to modern Managerial prosperity. No more is here intended than a rapid summary of a few little-known facts and a revival of some pleasant recollections; but to those who may hereafter think fit to deal with the subject, at a length in accordance with its importance, we offer materials which may not be without interest.

No future writers on this theme should be left unacquainted with the circumstance, recently made known by that acute Shakespearian critic, Mr. Frederick Guest Tomkins, that the first painter of moveable scenery in England was R. Aggas [1]; and at Painter Stainers' Hall, Little Trinity-lane, may yet be seen a fine specimen of the artist's work. Those who passed a pleasant evening last summer in the fine old Courtroom of this most interesting City Hall will long retain a lively memory of the genial gathering invited to hear the particulars of the discovery.

The ancient scenery employed for open-air representations at first consisted of mere boughs, but afterwards of tapestry, not painted canvas. The Greek stage consisted of three parts, the seena, across the Theatre, upon the line of the curtain in our Theatres; the proscenium, where the actors perform; and the postscenium, the part behind the house. To form parts of the scenes there were prisms of framework, turning upon pivots, upon each face of which was stained a distinct picture; one for tragedy, consisting of large buildings, with columns, statues, and other corresponding ornaments; a second face, with houses, windows, and balconies, for comedy; a third applied to farce, with cottages, grottoes, and rural scenes. These were the scenes versatiles of Servius. Besides these there were scena ductiles, which drew backwards and forwards, and opened a view of the house, which was built upon the stage, and contained apartments for machinery or retirement of actors.

As to the patterns of the scenes in comedy the most considerable building was in the centre, that on the right hand was a little less elevated, and that on the left generally represented an inn. In the satirical pieces they had always a cave in the middle, a wretched cabin on the right, and on the left an old ruined temple or a landscape. In these representations perspective was observed, for Vitruvius remarks that "the rules of it were invented and practiced from the time of AEschylus by a painter named Agararchius, who has even left a treatise upon it." After the downfall of the Roman Empire these decorations of the stage were neglected till Peruzzi, a Siennese, who died in 1536, revived them.

Classical scholars will readily understand the various opportunities for scenic effect afforded by the old Greek dramatists, and there is some reason for believing the illusions of the ancient stage were much more perfect than has been generally supposed. There were three entries in front, and two on the sides. The middle entry was always that of the principal actor; thus, in tragedy, it was commonly the gate of a palace. Those on the right and left were destined to the second-rate actors; and the two others on the sides, one to people from the country, the other to those from the harbour, or any other public place.

Sipareum was the signification of the tapestry curtain; it was let down, not raised, when the performance commenced, and at the beginning of new acts. The auleum was probably a drop scene or curtain, to draw before doors, and contract the stage. Choragium, property room, where were kept the dresses, scenes, and musical instruments, and here were sometimes disposed the choirs of musicians. In the Greek Theatre it was a place behind the scenes, used also for a dressing room. There was an inner dressing room named post-cenium. Thus even at a remote period we see that attention to the comforts of the performers was by no means overlooked by the theatrical architect of that period.

That the scene-painter's accommodation has been, down to very recent times, completely lost sight of by those who have had the arrangement of our Theatres may be mentioned in curious contrast with the reliance now placed on the result of the artist's powers.

According to Malone, moveable scenes were net in use in England till 1605, when three plays were performed at Oxford, before James I., thus described by a contemporary writer:- "The stage was built at the upper end of the hall, as it seemed at the first sight, but, indeed, it was but a false wall, faire painted; which pillars would turn about, by reason whereof, with other painted clothes, the stage did vary three times in one tragedy." It will be observed the writer was not acquainted with the word scene, but used "painted clothes" in that suage.

In the early part of Shakespeare's time, as is well known, the want of scenery was supplied by writing the names of' the different places of action on the boards, which were so placed as to be visible to the audience. Thus Davenant, in the introduction to The Siege of Rhodes, 1656, says, "In the middle of the freeze was a compartment wherein was written Rhodes."

Jameson, called the Scottish Vandyke, designed the scenery for the private theatricals at Holyrood House for his patron, King James VI. This monarch, when celled to the English throne, elected Inigo Jones, his renowned architect, to design the scenery for his Theatre at the palace of Whitehall. His successor, Charles I, and his tasteful Queen, Henrietta, during their happier days, gave a new character to the stage. All was elegance at their youthful Court. There Ben Jonson presented his Masques, and Inigo Jones was still retained as scene painter and Machinist. Charles spared no expense in the decorations for these romantic pieces, in which himself and his Queen and the young lords and Ladies of the Court took an active part in the performance. The skill and ingenuity displayed in these scenic contrivances seem to have been remarkable. Streater, a painter of eminence, and who sketched many views of old buildings for his royal patron, Charles II., designed the scenes for Dorset Gardens Theatre and the Phoenix. When this house fell under the management of Fleetwood he employed his gay friend, Frank Hayman, as principal scene-painter to the Theatre.

Great improvements in the scenic department were made at the beginning of the last century, when Rich, who was Manager of the playhouse in Lincoln's Inn-fields, denominated the new Theatre, and set up in rivalry, of Drury-lane, designed a series of spectacular entertainments, which drew the audiences from the old house, although it retained a strong company under the management of Wilkes, Booth, and Cibber. Italy had long been famines for its scene painters and the splendour of its Pantomimic representations. Canaletti, the greet painter, designed the scenery for the Venetian stage. Some of these foreign artists were employed by Rich, and then it was the English first beheld the delightful effect of the picturesque as viewed through a splendid proscenium on a lengthened stage.

The Managers of Drury, in self defence, were compelled to attempt the same kind of entertainment, and they pressed into their service a celebrated scene-painter, named Devoto, and a ballet-master, Monsieur Thermond, who projected a Pantomime of which Jack Sheppard was the hero. This set the wits of the town on the Managers, who, with the scene-painter, were dragged to the satiric whipping-post. On these Pantomimic pieces they were lavish of expense, as the scenery and machinery were the principal attractions.

When Rich removed his dramatic corps from Lincoln's Inn-fields to the newly-erected Theatre in Covent-garden, Hogarth caricatured the whole house moving in procession across the market-place in front of the piazza, not forgetting to have a hit at his friend George Lambert, whose scenes he piled in a waggon wherein the thunder and lightning were made conspicuous. Lambert, who had been joint scene-painter at Lincoln's Inn, was appointed principal in that department at Covent-garden, and it was in the scene-room here that he founded the Beef-steak Club. Harvey, a landscape painter, and Amiconi, who painted the fine groups on the upper part of the staircase at old Buckingham House, executed the decorations of the proscenium, an allegory of Shakespeare, Apollo, and the Muses. John Laguerre, the historical painter, occasionally designed the scenes for Lincoln's Inn stage, and the curious scene-cloth representing the Siege of Troy, depicted in Hogarth's Southwark Fair, is from his design. Michael Angelo Rooker, whimsically Italianised himself into Signor Rookerini, and who was at once painter, Harlequin, Scaramouch, and engraver, was principal scene-painter to the elder Colman at his Theatre in the Haymarket.

John Richards, the old Secretary of the Royal Academy, painted many years for the stage. His rural scenery for The Maid of the Mill is perpetuated in two line engravings, which are in the portfolios of all our old-fashioned Collectors of English prints. De Loutherbourg who for some time delighted and astonished the town by his interesting dioramic exhibition, which he called "The Eidophusikon," was the first to increase the effect of scenery by lighting from above the proscenium, and using coloured glasses for the lamps. Many ingenious devices, now familiar, in their effects at least, to a playgoing public, owe their adoption to the dashing, vigorous Flemish battle-painter, whose appearance was as martial as his pictures, and whom Jack Bannister nicknamed "Field-Marshal Leatherbags."

Another distinguished artist of this period was Mr. Greenwood, father of Mr. T. L. Greenwood, so long associated with the management of Sadler's Wells Theatre. For many years the scenery of the Royal Circus (now the Surrey Theatre) was painted by Mr. Greenwood, who invested the ballets and senior musical spectacles brought out there by Mr. J. C. Cross with remarkable scenic attractions, and, when the artist was transferred to Drury-lane, he became even more prominent. Byron, in his "English Bards and Scottish Reviewers," speaks of "Greenwood's gay designs" as being then the chief support of the Drama at that period.

When John Kemble became Manager of Covent-garden Theatre, the accuracy of scenery and costume became more studied. One of the most eminent scene-painters of this period was Mr. William Capon, who died in September, 1827. He was born in 1757, and studied under Novosielski, the architect of the Italian Opera House, during which time he designed the Theatre and other buildings at Ranelagh Gardens, and painted several scenes for the Opera. On the completion of New Drury, in 1794, Kemble engaged Mr. Capon for the scenic department, by which means the Manager was greatly assisted in his reformation of the stage. The artist had a private painting room, to which Kemble used to invite his friends to witness the progress of this scenic reform. Among these specimens were a Chapel of the pointed style of architecture, which occupied the whole stage, and was used for the performance of oratorios; six chamber wings of the same order, for general use in our old English plays, and very elaborately studied from actual remains; a View of New Palace Yard, Westminster, as it was in 1793, forty-one feet wide, with corresponding wings; the Ancient Palace of Westminster, as it was three hundred years back, carefully painted from authorities, and forty-two feet wide and thirty-four feet to the top of the scene; six wings representing ancient English streets; the Tower of London, restored to its earlier state for the play of Richard the Third; and for Jane Shore was painted the Council Chamber of Crosby House. All these scenes were spoken of at the time as historical curiosities.

Capon painted for John Kemble two magnificent interior views of Drury-lane and Covent-garden, for which he received about two hundred guineas. Unfortunately all his scenes were destroyed by the fire at Drury-lane in 1809, but he afterwards painted many scenes for Covent-garden which for several years must have completely satisfied the more critical eye of even a later generation, for several needed only a little re-touching to serve the Managements which preceded that of Mr. Macready.

In Elliston's time Marinari and Stanton painted a beautiful drop scene for Drury-lane, which was substituted for the green curtain. It was a fine composition of Grecian ruins and figures within a splendidly-wrought frame, heightened with gold ornamentation. The figures were by Stanton, and the cost of the scene was nearly '£700.

In 1828 the principal scene-painters of Drury-lane were Stanfield, Andrews, and Marinari. Stanfield's panoramas, at this period introduced into each successive Pantomime, were triumphs of pictorial art. The two drop scene's then used between the acts were much admired. One including the Coliseum, with other remains of classic architecture, was painted by Stanton. The other from a picture by Claude, was from Stanfield's pencil. The Weight of each of these drops, with the roller and necessary adjuncts, was about 8001bs.

In marine scenery Clarkson Stanfield had never been surpassed. Born at Sunderland in 1798, he had commenced life as a sailor, and he had well profited by his early experience of the lights and shadows of the sea. For many years Mr. Stanfield taught the pit and gallery to admire landscape art, and the occupants of the boxes to become connoisseurs. He decorated Drury-lane Theatre with works so beautiful that the public annually regretted the frail material of which they were composed, and the necessity for new and gorgeous effects, which caused this fine artist's works to be successively obliterated. He created, and afterwards painted out with his own brush, more scenic masterpieces than any man, and in his time Clown and Pantaloon tumbled over and belaboured one another in front of the most beautiful and dazzling pictures which were ever presented to the eye of the play-goer.

The late David Roberts, who made his debut in London as a scene-painter at Drury-lane, where he commenced his career in 1822, was also famous for his dioramas, but he never produced works which equalled Stanfield's moving diorama of Alpine scenery, or the memorable views of Windsor and the neighbourhood, which included the sparkling tableau of Virginia Water, wherein the real element was so effectively introduced.

The principal Covent-garden artists at this time (1828) were David Roberts and the famous scenic triumvirate, Messrs. Grieve, and T. and W. Grieve. Mr. Roberts, who only died recently, was a fine architectural scenic draughtsman, and the drop scene he painted for this Theatre, the Interior of a Temple to Shakespeare, consisting of fluted Corinthian Sienna columns, supporting a soffite dome, the perspective terminating with a monumental group introducing the immortal Bard, with St. Paul's Cathedral in the distance, will be vividly remembered by the mature playgoer. The Grieves had long been famous for their Pantomime scenery, and in the brilliancy of their style, the strong feeling of reality which they communicated to the spectator, and in the taste and artistic beauty of their landscape compositions, they have since had few rivals, and have never been excelled. The Covent-garden Pantomime of Aladdin, this year, shows that Mr. T. Grieve has still the right to wear the laurelled crown. The last scene of The Master of Ravenswood, at the Lyceum, with the storm effects introduced, may be cited as a fine specimen of this artist's powers.

At the present time the stage is richly supplied with scenic artists whose reputation needs no better security than the productions they have this year given to the public. With a cherished remembrance of the old days of Tomkins and Pitt at the Adelphi, of Philip Phillips at the Surrey, and of the clever artist, Brunning, who died a mere youth, and yet figured conspicuously among the scenic corps of twenty years ago, we may pass confidently to the catalogue of our present distinguished representatives of the scenic art.

Mr. William Beverley, on his own ground at Drury, is the unrivalled delineator of the fanciful region in which fairies may be imagined to dwell. Mr. William Galleon is a richly-endowed and skilful artist, whose "Transformation Scenes" have long won for him a special celebrity, and whose latest triumphs of pictorial ingenuity, as exhibited at the Alhambra, would suffice to establish his name as a highly-original producer of peculiar "effects."

Mr. O'Connor at the Haymarket, Mr. Lloyd at the Princess's, Mr. Charles James at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, Mr. Hawes Craven at the Olympic, Messrs. Brew at Astley's, Mr. Gates at the Surrey, Mr. Frederick Fenton at the Victoria, and his brother, Mr. Charles Fenton at the Strand, have severally produced works of Art which will long keep their names vividly impressed on the memory of the playgoer. Nor should those who have so successfully laboured for the Theatres we have not here named be passed over in silence. In the ample accounts we have rendered of the last Christmas novelties they will find, however, the fullest recognition of their respective merits. Mr. Marshall, though not now so much before the public as a scenic artist, is not likely to be forgotten by those who can appreciate the services he has rendered to this important department of the stage; and Mr. Telbin has so distinguished himself by the triumphs he has achieved in the highest region of the Scenic Art that it is only to be regretted, for the sake of playgoers, his pencil is not now as frequently employed as heretofore for their gratification.

The above text was first published in the ERA, 4th of February 1866.

[1] This refers to Robert Aggas who lived at the time of Charles II and apparently died in 1679 aged about 60 years old.

Art On The Stage

From the Building News and Engineering Journal, July 29th, 1881

Scene Painting is an art by itself. There is no other branch of painting just like it, either in the variety of subjects embraced or in the methods employed. The thorough scenic artist must be equally at home in landscape or marine work, architectural or fresco. He is not permitted to cultivate any particular branch of his art, nor any favourite style. He must be able to produce, at any time, the wild mountainous passes of Switzerland or the flat meadows of Holland; the green lanes of homelike England, or the winding valleys of romantic Spain. In his architectural work he cannot devote himself to the Gothic or the Romanesque, but must be equally master of the Moorish, the Greek, and the Oriental. He may to-day be called upon to paint the Temple of Minerva, and to-morrow the Mosque of Omar; this week the Windsor Hotel, and next week the Palace of Versailles. His art knows no boundaries, and his scope is confined by no limits. The universe must be at his command, and things unseen must live in his imagination. The methods by which he works and many of the materials he employs are altogether different from those employed by the ordinary oil or water-colour painter. They approach more nearly to those of the latter, yet even here certain qualities of the colours used by the scene-painter constitute a sharp dividing line.

In the first place, the ordinary water-colour painter works upon paper. The scene-painter uses canvas. He first makes a pasteboard model of his scene and gives it to the stage carpenter, who builds the frame-work and pastes the canvas upon it. It is then ready for the "paint frame." This is a huge wooden affair, hung upon ropes, with counterweights attached. It is usually placed against the wall at the back or side of the stage, and has a windlass attached by which it may be hoisted and lowered. The artist works upon a bridge built in front of this frame and at its top when the bottom is touching the stage. By hoisting or lowering the paint frame he is enabled to reach any part of his scene. He is provided with plenty of brushes, ranging from a heavy 2lb. brush such as is used by house-painters, to a small sharp one for drawing fine lines. In addition to these he has several whitewash brushes for laying in flat washes and skies.

His colours are kept in buckets, tin cans, and earthenware vessels. His palette is a long table with partitioned compartments on the top to hold small quantities of colour. Give him now his palette-knife, his rule, plenty of twine and sticks of charcoal, and he is ready to go to work. His first duty is to "prime" his scene. This is done with a plain coat of white. This colour and all others used by him are mixed with "sizing," which is simply a weak solution of glue. Working with colours mixed in this way is called painting in distemper, and has certain advantages which will be spoken of further on. The priming coat is laid on with a heavy white wash brush, care being taken to drive the colour well into the canvas. Sometimes heavy unbleached muslin is used; but the usual material is duck.

After the canvas is primed and dry, the artist is ready to draw. Most scenic painters do their first drawing in a very sketchy manner. After the charcoal outline is finished, it is gone over carefully with an ink prepared especially for the purpose, and not used in any other branch of art. In architectural drawing this part of the work is necessarily done with the greatest care, as regularity of outline and accuracy of detail are absolutely necessary. A scene-painter's outline for a landscape, however, looks very much like the off-hand outline productions hastily done by an old hand at sketching from nature. The scene-painter must be a master of perspective; for street scenes and palace corridors are frequently produced by him. The method of drawing in perspective on a large scale is curious, though substantially the same as that usually employed. The artist selects his "vanishing point," usually outside of his scene, and attaches to it by a pin a long piece of twine. Beginning at the top of the scene he marks off, in the foreground, the distances between his lines. He then blackens the twine with charcoal, and, laying the loose end on his first mark, draws it tight and snaps it upon the scene, making a line in the same manner as a carpenter does upon a long board. These lines are afterward gone over with ink and ruler. In this way he is able to produce a perfect perspective. Exterior scenes, in which a castle or other large building appears, often have the perspective increased in effect by continuing a wall or rampart down the stage upon a separate piece set exactly in the line of perspective.

Secrets of the Scene-Painter

The next step is the laying in of the groundwork. The sky is, of course, the first point. This is done with whitewash brushes, the painter being absolutely free from all restraint in his method of putting on the colour. The principal point is to get it on quickly. And here the great advantages of painting in distemper become thoroughly plain. These advantages are two in number: the first is, that the colour dries very quickly, thus affording the artist a high rate of speed in working; secondly, all the colours retain, when dry, precisely the same tint as they had before being mixed. The addition of the sizing makes each colour several shades darker than it is when simply in the powdered state. The knowledge of this fact and thorough understanding of the effect the tints will produce after drying is one of the great secrets of the art. Oil-painters of high standing have been known to try the distemper method with utterly disastrous results. Colours mixed with oil always darken several shades and remain dark. Colours mixed with sizing always dry out to their original shade.

Different painters have different methods, and there is as much variety in the school of scene-painting as in other branches of art. The German, French, and American artists use opaque washes, or, as it is usually expressed, work in "body colour." The English school, in which the greatest advances have been made, use thin glazes. This in scene painting is the quickest and most effective. Morgan, Marston, Fox, and Voegtlin are among the leading representatives of this school in America, and their method is gradually spreading among the artists of that country. Its rapidity may be judged from the fact that one of these artist's lately painted a scene measuring twenty by thirty feet in less than four hours.

One of the greatest differences in scene-painting from ordinary water-colour painting is that, while the colours of the latter are transparent, those of the former are opaque. For instance, the water-colour painter can lay in a wash of yellow ochre, and, by covering it when dry, with a light coat of madder lake, can transform it to a soft orange. In distemper, however, the coat of madder lake would not allow the yellow to show but would completely hide it, and the tint presented would be pure pink. From this fact results a total difference in the painting of foliage. The water-colour painter lays in his light tints first and puts in his shadows afterwards. The scene-painter may do this or not as he pleases. He may put his light tints over his dark ones and they will not lose any of their brilliancy. The advantage of this in regard to speed may be easily seen. If the water-colour painter wishes to put a high light in the middle of a shadow, he must first erase with a sharp knife a portion of his dark tint, or else put on a heavy spot of Chinese white. Over the spot thus erased or whitened he puts the required tint. The distemper painter is relieved of this roundabout process, for he simply dots in his light colour wherever he needs it over the darker shade, and it shows with perfect brilliancy. Again, in painting skies the scene-painter works by a method of his own, not unlike that adopted by oil-painters. The water-colour painter must leave all the broad light of his sky when putting in the main colour, and is obliged to work with his tints wet. The scene-painter may lay in the entire sky with blue, and paint his light yellowish clouds over it afterward. If the ordinary water-colour painter were to do this, his clouds would be green. Some scene-painters, however, work their entire skies wet. The effect of a sky painted thus is always very fine, but only an artist thoroughly conversant with the values of his several pigments can do this. For the colours, it will be remembered, present a very different appearance when wet from that which they have when dry.

Scene-painting has become so important an art that one large firm in New York makes a great speciality of imported materials. There is a long list of colours and other things used exclusively in scenic art, and improvements are being constantly made. Formerly scene-painters were obliged to grind their own colours, but these are now prepared in "pulp" - that is, ground in water. Among the colours used almost exclusively by scenic artists are English Paris white, zinc white, silver white, drop black, Frankfort black, Turkey umbers, Italian siennas, Cologne earth, Dutch pink, Schweinfurter green, Neuwieder green, ultramarine green, Bremen blue, azure blue, Persian scarlet, Turkey red, Tuscan red, Solferino, Magenta, Munich lake, Florentine lake, Vienna lake, and blue lake. Some of these colours are also used by fresco painters.

Those which are never used except by scenic artists are celestial blue, golden ochres, green lakes, Milori greens, French green and yellow lakes. The colours specially imported for scene-painters are carnation, royal purples, green lakes, and the English chromes. Indigo is used in very large quantities by scenic artists, but it is used very moderately by water-colour artists. It adds considerably to the expense of getting up scenery.

Other Materials Used

The scene-painter, however, is not confined to colours in producing his effects. There is a number of other materials of great importance in scene-painting. The gorgeous dashes of blue, crimson, yellow, and purple that make the resplendent fairy grotto are not alone sufficient. The glitter that is seen on the many-coloured stalagmites and stalactites is produced by ordinary gold and silver leaf. Sometimes it becomes necessary to produce upon the scene a smooth, glittering surface which shall be coloured. This is produced by foil papers. They are made of paper with a polished metallic surface, and are very effective in fairy scenes. What are known as bronze powders are made of all shades. They are metallic powders of gold, silver, bronze, steel, blue, red, purple, and other shades. A brush full of glue is drawn across the required surface, and the bronze is spread over it. The consequent appearance is that of a rough metallic surface similar to that frosted silver.

In some scenes it is necessary to represent precious stones. The jewels in the walls of some Eastern despot's palace cannot be imitated by paint with a sufficient degree of realism to stand the glare of gas and calcium light. Hence, theatrical art resorts to what are called "logies." These are made of zinc, in the shape of a large jewel, and are set in the canvas. They are made in all colours; and thus, by a very cheap and easy process, the barbaric splendour of Persia or of Turkey may be reproduced in all its original opulence. Sometimes it becomes necessary to represent that changing sheen that is visible upon highly-polished metals when exposed to the rays of the sun. This is done by means of coloured lacquers. The surface of the metal is painted, and a wash of those lacquers, blending from one tint into another, is put over it. The light reflected from these different coloured washes produces the desired effect, and gives a highly realistic representation of a surface of metal.

An ice scene is never complete without some thing to produce glitter and sparkle. This effect is produced by "frostings" of crushed glass, which are made to adhere to the canvas in the same manner as the bronze powders. The elaborate ornamental work of interior scenes is always done by means of stencils cut in pasteboard. There are books published on fresco painting which give large numbers of beautiful designs for panels, ceilings, mouldings, and other ornamental work. Every scene-painter has a collection of these works. The ingenious artist, however, is constantly combining the different designs, and often invents new ones. He is thus enabled to present to the public an ever-changing variety.

The last thing that the scene-painter does before the production of a new play is to have his scenes set upon the stage at night in order that he can arrange the lighting of them. The "gas-man" of a theatre is the artist's mainstay. It lies in his power to ruin the finest scene that was ever painted. Ground lights turned too high upon a moonlight scene, calciums with glass not properly tinted, or the shadow of a straight edged border-drop thrown across a delicate sky - all these things are ruin to the artist's most careful work. The proper lighting of a scene is, therefore, a matter that requires the most careful study. The artist sits in the centre of the auditorium and minutely observes every nook and comer of his scene under the glare of gas. Here a light is turned up and there one is lowered until the proper effect is secured. The gas-man takes careful note of his directions, and the stage-manager oversees everything. Long after the audience has left the theatre on the night before the production of a new play, the stage-hands, the artist, and the stage manager are at work, and the public sees only the charming result of their labours when the curtain rises on the next night.

The above article was first published in the New York Tribune, and then reprinted in the Building News and Engineering Journal, July 29th, 1881.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

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