Reginald John "Rex" Whistler (1905–1944)
Programme for a George VI State Performance
of Tchaikovsky's "The Sleeping Princess" in Honour of French President Albert François Lebrun
Royal Opera House, London
22nd March 1939
39.1 cm x 22.6 cm
Elaborately shaped, die-cut cream card covers with embossing, printed images and gold printed Royal crown and cypher. Gilt cord and tassels to the spine. Further illustrations and vignettes within (not by Rex Whistler), with details of performers over 12 pages.
An ornate souvenir programme for the State Performance hosted by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Opera House on 22 March 1939 in honour of the President of the French Republic, Albert François Lebrun (1871-1950) and his wife Madame Lebrun. The performers included Margot Fonteyn, Robert Helpmann, William Chappell, Frank Staff and Frederick Ashton with Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Widely considered to be one of Rex Whistler's most beautiful printed designs this theatre program is a particularly remarkable and imaginative creation, considering the usual status accorded to such ephemeral objects. Along with the design for the shaped and embossed card, Whistler provided the cover illustration with the arms of France and England guarded by the national emblems of the English lion and Gallic rooster ('le coq gaulois'). For the night of the performance Rex Whistler had also decorated the Royal Box with similar motifs (see images).
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