Excerpt from The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 12: Illustrated and Published Monthly; October 1907 to March 1908
It was not till the beginning of the last century that realism began to gain ground appreciably. Garrick encouraged Loutherbourg, but he con fined the ingenious artist's 'real' waterfalls and so forth to his pantomimes. Even in costume nothing more than symbolism was aimed at. The symbolism which Mr. Max Beerbohm has pointed out beneath the grey whiskers of the doctor and the red whiskers of the Irishman had its subtler forerunner in the eighteenth century. The pictures in Bell's British Theatre (1776-1778) are an easily consulted source of information. Miss Yonge as Creusa, queen of Thebes, wears the dress which she would have worn at home, or at a rout but her crown, her tiger or leopard skin, and the key pattern that borders her many skirts, proclaim her at a glance an Eastern queen, and a Greek queen. When we come to John Philip Kemble, we find that stout champion of tradition protesting to some one who wished him to give his Roman soldiers Roman helmets that he was an actor, not an antiquary. Then came the Charles Kean revivals of Shakespeare, Fechter, the Ban crofts, whose realism was a just and artistic revolt against the shabby makeshifts of their day, and Sir Henry Irving, who brought all the newly awakened South Kensington and the still slumber ing Burlington House to his aid, with Sir Alma Tadema at the head of them. The rest of the story is a tale of constantly increasing efforts to make each production a sort of child's guide to the period, and to have as much detail, and as highly elaborated, as possible.
The second difficulty of the producer, illustrated again by the production we referred to first, is that of the lighting, which, of course, is closely involved with that of the demand for realism.
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