Poster, La Vengeance de la Geisha 1906


Very rare and beautiful poster from 1906 of the historical drama “The revenge of the Geisha”, it is striking that the text is almost entirely in French while this is the announcement of a Dutch-language theater. The photo is from the famous photographer Joseph Byron. The poster is 44 x 41 cm in size The poster is framed with passe partout and is 54 x 54 cm in size. The poster has folds and a small tear at the bottom. On the back the is a childs pencil drawing.

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In 1850, Victor Driessens, from the Antwerp theater company De Dageraed and Jan Tillemans from De Scheldegalm, applied for a grant from the French-speaking Antwerp city council. The then mayor of Antwerp, Jean-François Loos, only wanted to accept this request if they both formed a group that could give regular performances. Three years later, there was indeed a new, joint application from De Dageraed and De Scheldegalm. The city council awarded this new company, which was called Nationael Tooneel, a subsidy of 8000 Belgian francs. The Nationael Tooneel became the first subsidized Dutch-language theater company in Flanders. This performance was held in the Théâtre des Variétés, on the corner of the Marshal Gérard and Schermersstraat. On October 6, 1853 they performed for the first time with the piece De Dronkaerd by Pieter Frans van Kerckhoven. The most important actors were Victor Driessens, Catharina Beersmans, Felix van de Sande, Frans van Doeselaer, Napoleon Destanberg, Jef Dierckx and Julie Verstraete-Lacquet.

The Théâtre des Variétés in Schermerstraat was originally built only as an emergency theater, and was therefore not a sustainable building. Soon, votes were cast for the construction of a city theater for the Nationael Tooneel, just as the Bourla already existed for the Théâtre Royal Français. In the 1960s, the Flemish-minded Meeting Party came to power in Antwerp. In 1866 (the then director was Eloy Lemaire), the City Council decided to build a Flemish theater on the Kipdorp bridge. The building was to be put into use in 1874 and on this occasion the Nationael Tooneel took the name of its new home: Nederlandsche Schouwburg. Over the years, however, the company more than once collided with the Antwerp city authorities. This was not satisfied with the level and especially the nature of the repertoire. Where the city council wanted to see theater that was uplifting to the people and fit in with civil virtue ethics, the management of the company mainly programmed the popular melodramas, often translated from French. In 1903 the 50th anniversary was celebrated, and the company was given the title ‘Royal’. From now on it went through life as a Royal Dutch Theater.


In 1906, the management of Frans van Doeselaer, who was a director since 1882, came to an end. August de Lattin and Frans van Laer took over the helm. Slowly but surely the repertoire changed. Under the direction of Louis Bertrijn and Adriaan van der Horst (1912-1914) Ibsen and Shaw, among others, appeared in the repertoire. During the First World War, the company experienced a difficult period and many artists fled to the Netherlands. It took until 1922 for the company to well overcome the difficulties. In that year, Jan Oscar De Gruyter became director. Not without difficulties he succeeded in getting the views of Stanislavski to be used in the company, the repertoire was never so high. In 1929, the company left the theater on Kipdorp Bridge and moved to the Bourla.

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Joseph Byron was born in England in January 1847. He came from a family of photographers. He received a commission to photographically record working conditions in English coal mines. In 1888 he emigrated to the United States where he opened a commercial photo studio in Manhattan, focusing mainly on photography of Broadway shows and other theater productions. Joseph Byron died in Manhattan on May 28, 1923.

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