A very large, unrecorded art poster of the American dancer Ruth (Emma Dennis) St. Denis (1877-1968), most probably created to publicise her “American Tour of East Indian Dances” (November 1909-April 1910), or else her “Coast-to-Coast Tour” (December 1910-May 1911). It is based on a photograph in a book designed by William Henry Bradley (1868-1962), The American stage of to-day: biographies and photographs of one hundred leading actors and actresses (New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1910), and possibly was commissioned from Bradley by the theatrical producer Charles Frohman, organiser of the dancer’s tours. Bradley, the foremost American poster designer of the Art Nouveau movement, had worked for Frohman in 1894 (”The Masqueraders”, New Empire Theatre, New York); further evidence of the artist’s work for the stage has yet to come to light.
Our poster was once in the collection of the choreographer Jack Cole, who in 1930 joined Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, and spent time learning and performing the repertory of the Denishawn troupe (Sotheby’s, Catalogue of the Jack Cole Collection of Books and Pictures on the Dance, Part II, London, 12 November 1979, lot 82). There was no example of the poster in the collection of memorabilia gifted by Ruth St. Denis to the Museum of Modern Art in 1940 (since transferred to the New York Public Library), or among the material sold by her to the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1966-1968.