Wonderful signed, hand colored lithograph depicting 19th century British actress Kate Santley wearing playing cards for a crown, and with playing cards decorating her dress. The print is one of the “Bijou Portraits” that were issued as supplements to Society Magazine during the year 1883. The Portraits featured prominent theater performers and playwrights of the time in London.
Wikipedia has this to say about Ms. Santley’s career as a theatre performer:
“Kate Santley (1837 - 1923) was an American-born English actress, singer, comedienne, and theatre manager. Her brother was the English baritone, Sir Charles Santley, famous in Wagner's Flying Dutchman among other roles.
“Santley made a name in the 1860s in British music halls and Drury Lane Theatre pantomimes. Early in her career, she was popular for singing the song "The Bell goes a-ringing for Sarah." At the Oxford Music Hall, she had appeared with Euphrosyne Parepa, who later married Carl Rosa. Santley was slim and pretty and became much photographed for visiting cards, postcards and advertising. Early in her career, she played in F. C. Burnand's St. George and the Dragon.
“In 1871-72, Santley appeared on Broadway, including in a revival of the hit 1866 musical, The Black Crook. In 1872 she appeared in the London production of The Black Crook at the Alhambra Theatre, where she also starred in Jacques Offenbach and Burnand's La Belle Hélène (1873). Later that year, she sang Cunegonde in Le roi Carotte. In 1874, she played Haidee in H. J. Byron's Don Juan, then in La Jolie Parfumeuse, followed by the title role in Whittington, by Offenbach. In 1876, she played Wilhelmina in The Jolly Waterman at the Opera Comique and then created the title character in (and produced) Princess Toto, a comic opera by W. S. Gilbert and Frederic Clay. Thereafter, Clay wrote numerous songs (such as her popular hit, “Nobody knows as I know”) and other operas for Santley.
“In 1878, Santley produced and starred in Dipunacy, which was a popular burlesque of Diplomacy. 1879, at the Royalty Theatre, Santley played in La Marjolaine and starred in (and produced) Little Cinderella and in the hit Tita in Thibet by Frank Desprez. In 1880, she played in the Drury Lane pantomime Mother Goose (and the Enchanted Beauty) with Arthur Roberts, the popular music hall comedian. In 1884, Santley played in La Cosaque at the Royalty, and in 1886, she hired Sidney Jones as musical director for the tour of her musical Vetah.”
In 1877, Santley became the manager of the Royalty Theatre in London, and her association with that theatre would last 30 years. However, this print seems to depict her in one of her roles as an actress. I do not know which one, although I note at the bottom of the art work that the character is quoted as saying, “I have a sympathetic heart.” The art work is by Frank Jeller, a British artist that somewhat ironically appears to be best known for a Wild West painting, “Race of Cowboys and Indians.” The printer was Charles Goodall & Son, the famous maker of playing cards. The print is signed by Santley – not an “original” signature, but an image of one.
The print itself measures approximately 15½” by 11”. It is in beautiful condition but sadly has been securely taped to a white “Colourmount” mat.
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