Guide to the Porgy and Bess poster collection, 1952-1956

Porgy and Bess poster C0145


Published by George Mason University Libraries

Contact Information:

Fenwick Library (2FL)

George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444

USA

Phone: (703) 993-2220

Fax: (703) 993-8911

Email: speccoll@gmu.edu

URL: http://scrc.gmu.edu

Descriptive Summary

Repository George Mason University. Special Collections Research Center.
Creator George Mason University. Special Collections Research Center.
Title Porgy and Bess poster collection
Date 1952-1956
Physical Characteristics 84 posters; poster mock-ups and artwork
Abstract Content warning: Racist imagery. This collection contains posters promoting the American National Theatre and Academy (ANTA)-sponsored production of the Gershwin opera "Porgy and Bess" as it toured various countries - mostly European - during the mid-1950s. It also contains poster mock-ups and artwork related to the production.
Collection number C0145
Language Multiple

Biographical and Historical Information

"Porgy and Bess" is a 1934 American "folk opera" by George and Ira Gershwin, based on the play "Porgy" by Dorothy Heyward, which was itself an adaptation of the novel "Porgy and Bess" by DuBose Heyward. The opera tells the story of Porgy, a disabled Black man living in Catfish Row, a slum of Charleston, South Carolina. Porgy encounters Bess, a Black woman wishing to escape an abusive relationship with her lover, Crown, and her drug dealer, Sportin' Life. The two eventually begin living together and fall in love, with many consequences ensuing. "Porgy and Bess" is considered a classic of American opera and is performed to this day.

From its premiere, "Porgy and Bess" was controversial, mostly for the story's treatment of Black characters and perpetuating racial stereotypes. It was overall a commercial failure and met with little critical success. In 1942 a Broadway revival brought it back to the American public's attention, and the opera begin to receive success, which cemented it as a cultural touchstone. Eventually a large European tour was undertaken by Robert Breen and Blevins Davis of ANTA, which lasted from 1952 - 1956, to monumental success. The tour visited 89 cities and 29 countries. The opera's performance in the Soviet Union was considered the first cultural exchange post-World War II between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The production eventually toured the United States, also to great success.

Return to the Table of Contents

Scope and Content

This collection contains posters promoting the ANTA-sponsored production of "Porgy and Bess" as it toured various countries, mostly European, during the mid-1950s. It also includes poster mock-ups, drawings, and art related to the production.

Return to the Table of Contents

Arrangement

The posters are arranged alphabetically by country and city where they were performed.

Return to the Table of Contents

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions on personal use. Permission to publish material from the Porgy and Bess poster collection must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Return to the Table of Contents

Related Material

The Special Collections Research Center also holds the Robert and Wilva Breen papers and the Porgy and Bess letter from James Tipton.

The New York Public Library, Archives and Manuscripts Division holds the Porgy and Bess collection, which has materials from the United States ANTA tour.

Return to the Table of Contents

Index Terms

Persons:

Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. Porgy and Bess--Posters.

Document Types:

Theatrical posters.

Return to the Table of Contents

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Porgy and Bess poster collection, C0145, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Acquisition Information

Collection donated by Lorraine Brown in 1995.

Processing Information

Processed by Special Collections Research Center Staff. EAD markup completed in February 2009 by Eron Ackerman and Jordan Patty. Finding aid updated by Amanda Brent in April 2020.

Reprocessed by Amanda Brent from October 2021 - February 2022. EAD markup completed by Amanda Brent in February 2022.

Return to the Table of Contents

Contents List

Box Folder
Map Case 10.1 Austria - Vienna - Wochenspielplan Der Wiener Buhnen (Weekly Schedule of the Viennese Stages), September 7 - 11, 1952
German. Large ad page, brown background, middle ad for "Porgy and Bess." Size: 33.75" x 48".
10.1 Austria - Vienna - Wochenspielplan Der Wiener Buhnen (Weekly Schedule of the Viennese Stages), September 7, 1952
German. Large ad page, brown background, middle right ad for "Porgy and Bess." Size: 34" x 48".
10.1 Austria - Vienna - Coming Attractions V.M.P. Special Service...in Vienna, September 6 - 13, 1952
English. White background, blue and red lettering with musical and star design at top. Seemingly made for Americans abroad. Size: 27.5" x 39.5".
10.1 Belgium - Antwerp - Hippodrome Theatre (Hippodroom - Antwerpen), June 23 - 30, 1955
Flemish. Vertical; black background with yellow lettering; white squares with black lettering; white border. Size: 22" x 14.25" (small). Two copies.
10.1 Belgium - Antwerp - Hippodrome Theatre (Hippodroom - Antwerpen), June 23 - 30, 1955
Flemish. Black background with white squares and black lettering; large bright yellow lettering in the middle of "Porgy and Bess." Size: 31" x 96". Two copies.
10.1 Belgium - Brussels - Theatre de la Monnaie, June 16 - 21, 1955
French. Black background with white squares and black lettering; off white border; large lemon yellow letters in middle; yellow square at top with black lettering. Size: 23.5" x 32.5".
10.1 Belgium - Brussels - Theatre de la Monnaie, June 16 - 21, 1955
French. Black background, white boxes with black text, bright yellow letters. Size: 14.5" x 22" (small). Two copies.
10.1 Belgium - Brussels - Theatre de la Monnaie, March 25 - 31, 1956
French. Black background, white boxes with black text, bright green letters. Size: 23.5" x 32.5".
10.1 Belgium - Brussels - Theatre de la Monnaie, March 25 - 31, 1956
French. Black background, white boxes with black text, bright green letters. Size: 14.5" x 22" (small).
10.1 Belgium - Brussels - Theatre de la Monnaie, March 25 - 31, 1956
French. Large horizontal, black background, white boxes with black text, bright green letters. Size: 30.5" x 93".
10.1 Brazil - Rio de Janeiro - Teatro Municipal, July 6 - 13, 1955
Brazilian Portuguese. Four pieces; bright red background with off white border and white lettering inside of it. Size: 60" x 92". Two copies.
10.1 Czech Republic - Prague - Kerlin Theatre, February 11 - 19, 1956
Czech. Wash out off-white background' small black lettering, larger bold red lettering; on left side square with words "Porgy and Bess.'" Size: 24" x 34". Two copies.
10.1 Denmark - Aarhus - Aarhus-Hallen, May 9 - 16, 1956
Danish. White background in middle with lime green lettering and black writing; black and white photographs taken from characters and scenes of the play act as the border. Size: 24" x 33.25". Two copies.
10.1 Egypt - Alexandria - Theatre Mohamed Aly, December 31, 1954 - January 1, 1955
French. White background; blue border with white stars, blue and red letters. Size: 36" x 47". Two copies.
10.1 Egypt - Cairo - Theatre de l'Opera, January 7 - 12, 1955
French, Egyptian Arabic. White background, blue star border, blue and red lettering, Egyptian Arabic words at top. Size: 35" x 44.5".
10.1 France - Marseille - Opera Municipal, March 26 - April 4, 1955
French. Off-white background, red and blue lettering. Size: 12" x 18". Three copies.
10.1 France - Marseille - Opera de Marseille, March 26, circa 1955
French. Purple background with white lettering. Size: 36'' x 53''. Two copies.
10.1 France - Unknown city (likely Paris), circa 1955
French. Horizontal black with white lettering, introductory text only. Size: 13" x 47". Two copies.
10.1 France - Paris - Theatre de l'Empire, February 16 - March 1, 1953
French. Green background with black and white lettering. Size: 16" x 24" (small). Two copies.
10.1 France - Paris - Theatre de l'Empire, September 27 - December 4, 1954
French. Vertical, dark green background with white border, large bold black letters. Size: 16" x 23" (small). Two copies.
10.1 France - Paris - Theatre de l'Empire, September 30 - December 4, 1955
French. Vertical, dark green background with white border, large bold black letters. Size: 5.25" x 8.25" (small).
10.1 France - Paris - Theatre de l'Empire, September 30 - December 4, 1955
French. Horizontal, dark green background with white border, large bold black letters. Size: 31.5" x 47.
10.1 France - Paris - Theatre de l'Empire, September 30 - December 4, 1955
French. Large, vertical dark green background with black and white lettering. Size: 37.5" x 59". Two copies.
10.1 France - Paris - Theatre de l'Empire, September 30 - December 4, 1956
French. Large, horizontal dark green background with black and white lettering, white border. Size: 46" x 92".
10.1 Germany - Berlin - Titania-Palast, September 17 - 28, 1952
German. Off-white background, with blue sketch-like illustration of village; magenta and black lettering through the center. Size: 24" x 33". Two copies.
10.1 Germany - Berlin - Berliner Festwochen (Berlin Festival Weeks), September 20 - 18, 1952
German. Beige background, black and red lettering. Size: 23.5" x 33". Middle bottom "Porgy and Bess" ad for Titania Palast performance.
10.1 Germany - Dusseldorf - Apollo-Theater, November 18 - 23, 1955
German. Lemon yellow background with orange border on the top and bottom; orange and black lettering. Size: 23.5" x 33.5". Two copies.
10.1 Germany - Dusseldorf - Apollo-Theater, November 18 - 23, 1955
German. White background with black lettering; blue patch with Porgy and Bess written in yellow in the middle. Size: 23.5" x 33.5". Two copies.
10.1 Germany - Frankfurt - Stadtischen Buhnen Frankfurt, November 25 - 27, 1955
German. White background with black lettering, blue patch of color in middle with "Porgy and Bess" written in yellow.
10.1 Germany - Frankfurt - Stadtischen Buhnen Frankfurt, November 25 - 27, 1955
German. Beige background, gold/beige lettering top and bottom, blue bars with white lettering at top and middle. Size: 16" x 23".
10.1 Germany - Frankfurt - Stadtischen Buhnen Frankfurt, November 25 - 27, 1955
German. Light yellow background; black border on sides; red border on top and bottom and orange lettering. Size: 24.25" x 33.5". Two copies.
10.1 Germany - Hamburg - Hamburgische Staatsoper , March 7 - 12, 1956
German. Brick colored border surrounding off-white background; brick colored lettering. Size: 23" x 33".
10.1 Germany - Munich - Deutsches Theater, December 1 - 6, 1955
German. Black and white background with large neon yellow, black, and white lettering. Size: 33.5" x 47". Three copies.
10.1 Germany - Munich - Deutsches Theater, February 22 - 28, 1956
German. Two pieces, bright red background with neon yellow lettering reading "Porgy and Bess" across the front. Size: 33.5" x 47". Two copies.
10.1 Germany - Stuttgart - Staatsoper Stuttgart, March 2 - 4, 1956
German. Two pieces, black background with large neon yellow lettering in the middle. Size: 33.5" x 47". Two copies.
10.1 Greece - Athens - Unknown theatre, circa 1955
Greek. Mounted poster, illustrating in blue, yellow, green, with white lettering. Size: 14" x 19" (small).
10.2 Israel - Tel Aviv - Habimah Theatre (Habimah Hall) , January 26 - 30, 1955
Hebrew. White background, red and blue lettering. Size: 25" x 37.25". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Florence - Teatro Communale, March 9 - 13, 1955
Italian. Vertical, off white background with red and black lettering. Size: 13" x 27" (small). Three copies.
10.2 Italy - Florence - Teatro Communale, March 9 - 13, 1955
Italian. Mustard yellow background with black lettering, red lettering in upper half, two purple stamp like pictures on lower left part. Size: 27.5" x 39.5". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Genoa - Teatro Carlo Felice, March 1 - 6, 1955
Italian. Vertical, beige background with brown and red lettering, has a shield like emblem border at top. Size: 14" x 40". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Genoa - Teatro Carlo Felice, March 1 - 6, 1955
Italian. Vertical, beige background with black lettering, has a shield like emblem border at top. Size: 14" x 40".
10.2 Italy - Milan - Teatro all Scala, February 22 - 27, 1955
Italian. Light brown, emblem decoration at top border. Size: 27.5" x 39.5". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Milan - Teatro all Scala, February 22 - 27, 1955
Italian. Light brown, emblem decoration at top border, in three pieces. Size: 39.5" x 79".
10.2 Italy - Milan - Teatro all Scala, February 22 - 27, 1955
Italian. Light brown, emblem decoration at top border. Size: 10.5" x 15" (small). Three copies.
10.2 Italy - Naples - Teatro di San Carlo, February 15 - 17, 1955
Italian. Bright blue background with a yellow and green illustration of village, white border, white lettering. Size: 27.5" x 39.5". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Naples - Teatro di San Carlo, February 15 - 17, 1955
Italian. Bright yellow background, black and red lettering. Size: 38" x 52". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Naples - Teatro di San Carlo, February 15 - 17, 1955
Italian. Bright yellow background, black lettering, red lettering at top. Size: 26" x 38". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Naples - Teatro di San Carlo, February 15 - 17, 1955
Italian. Black background yellow lettering and drawing. Size: 24.5" x 37".
10.2 Italy - Naples - Teatro di San Carlo, February 15 - 17, 1955
Italian. Bright mustard yellow background, brown border, red and brown lettering. Size: 13" x 22" (small). Three copies.
10.2 Italy - Rome - Teatro delle Quattro Fontane, April 21 - May 14, 1955
Italian. Bright yellow background, black and red lettering. Size: 40" x 55". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Rome - Teatro delle Quattro Fontane, April 21 - May 14, 1955
Italian. Bright yellow background, black and red lettering. Size: 53" x 80".
10.2 Italy - Rome - Teatro delle Quattro Fontane, April 21 - May 14, 1955
Italian. Vertical, blue background with black and red lettering. Size: 14" x 39.5". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Rome - Teatro delle Quattro Fontane, April 21 - May 14, 1955
Italian. Brown and red lettering, yellow background. Size: 28" x 39.5".
10.2 Italy - Rome - Teatro delle Quattro Fontane, April 21 - May 14, 1955
Italian. Bright yellow with black and red lettering. Size: 39.5" x 55". Duplicate of second panel.
10.2 Italy - Rome - Teatro delle Quattro Fontane, April 21 - May 14, 1955
Italian. Vertical, yellow background with black and red lettering. Size: 14" x 39.5". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Rome - Teatro delle Quattro Fontane, April 21 - May 14, 1955
Italian. Four panels, one duplicate of last panel. Green and bright yellow ombre background, large red lettering, black lettering at bottom. Size: 55" x 79".
10.2 Italy - Turin - Teatro Alfieri, April 9 - 13, 1955
Italian. Vertical, off white, pink illustration of a lady in the background. Size: 13" x 28" (small). Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Turin - Teatro Alfieri, April 9 - 13, 1955
Italian. Pink and yellow illustration with black lettering. Size: 26" x 38". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Venice - Teatro La Fenice, September 22 - 25, 1954
Italian. Red background with half facial photo of George Gershwin in upper right, racist caricature illustration on left. Size: 28" x 40". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Venice - Teatro La Fenice, September 22 - 25, 1954
Italian. Long, vertical, yellow background with red lettering. Size: 14" x 40".
10.2 Italy - Venice - Teatro La Fenice, September 22 - 25, 1954
Italian. Long, vertical, blue background, with red and black lettering. Size: 14" x 40". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Venice - Teatro La Fenice, September 22 - 25, 1954
Italian. Long, vertical, white background, with red and black lettering. Size: 14" x 40". Two copies.
10.2 Italy - Venice - Teatro La Fenice, September 22 - 25, 1954
Italian. Large, off white, red and black lettering. Size: 40" x 52".
10.2 Italy - Venice - Teatro La Fenice, September 22 - 25, 1954
Italian. Long, vertical, pink background, with red and black lettering. Size: 14" x 40".
10.2 Netherlands - Amsterdam - [Royal] Theater Carre, May 19 - June 3, 1956
Dutch. White border, black lettering within white squares, yellow squares with black lettering, bright yellow lettering in middle. Size: 33.5" x 47". Two copies.
10.2 Netherlands - Rotterdam - Luxor Theater, April 13 - 19, 1956
Dutch. Black background and yellow lettering. Size: 23" x 34".
10.2 Peru - Lima - Teatro Municipal, September 3-6, circa 1955
Spanish. Brown background, black lettering. Size: 33.5" x 50". Two copies.
10.2 Poland - Warsaw - Opery w Warszawie (State Opera House in Warsaw), January 26 - February 1, 1954
Polish. White background, blue and red lettering. Size: 28" x 40". Two copies.
10.2 Poland - Warsaw, January 1956
Polish. Purple background, multicolored swuares, with drawn figure. Size: 26" x 39".
10.2 Spain - Barcelona - Gran Teatre del Liceu, February 3 - 6, 1955
Spanish. Large, off white with brown and red lettering, branch style border with leaves on it. Size: 34.5" x 49.5". Two copies.
10.2 Switzerland - Lausanne - Theatre de Beaulieu, March 16 - 20, 1955
French. Washed out yellow background with black and red lettering, bold red lettering in middle. Size: 36"x 50". Two copies.
10.2 Switzerland - Lausanne - Theatre de Beaulieu, March 16 - 20, 1955
French. Washed out yellow background with black and red lettering, bold red lettering in middle. Size: 14" x 28" (small). Three copies.
10.2 Switzerland - Zurich - Hallenstadion, June 3 - 12, 1955
German. Light green background with painted color figures of Porgy and Bess, black sketch of village, blue lettering on top. Size: 35.5" x 50". Two copies.
10.2 Switzerland - Zurich - Hallenstadion, June 3 - 12, 1955
German. Light green background with painted color figures of Porgy and Bess, black sketch of village, blue lettering on top. Size: 11.5" x 20" (small). Three copies.
10.2 Switzerland - Unknown city, circa 1955
French. White background, red border, white and red lettering. Possible produced by newspaper Hebdomadaire Romand. Size: 13.75" x 20" (small).
10.2 United States - Chicago - Chicago Civic Opera House, June 25, 1952
English. Two shades of orange background, black and white lettering, illustration of couple dancing in middle, both posters mounted on board. Size: 14" x 20" (small). Two copies.
10.2 United States - New York - Ziegfeld Theatre, circa 1955
English. Red background, black and red lettering, mounted on board. Size: 14" x 22" (small).
10.2 United States - New York - Ziegfeld Theatre, circa 1955
English. Red background, black and red lettering (same design as previous poster), only bottom panel available. Size: 29" x 41".
10.2 USSR/Russia - Leningrad/St. Petersburg - Theater of the Palace of Culture, December 26, 1955 - January 5, 1956
Russia. White background, blue and red lettering. Size: 28.5" x 42.5". Two copies.
10.2 USSR/Russia - Moscow - Department of Culture of the Board of Massovet, Moskovsk Theaters, January 11 - 20, 1956
Russian. Ad poster, salmon pink, black lettering. Size: 30.5" x 44.5".
10.2 USSR/Russia - Unknown city (likely Leningrad) - People's Theatre schedule, December 13 - 21, 1954
Russian. Light brown background, red and black lettering with "Porgy and Bess" on schedule. Size: 11.75" x 16.5" (small).
10.2 Yugoslavia/Croatia - Zagreb - Croatian National Theater, December 11 - 14, 1954
Croatian. Beige background, purple and white lettering. Size: 28" x 39.5". Two copies.
10.2 Yugoslavia/Croatia - Zagreb - Croatian National Theater, circa 1954
Croatian. Beige background, black and red lettering. Size: 8.25" x 11.5" (small).
10.2 Unknown country and city (likely Cairo, Egypt) - Theatre de l'Opera, January 7 - 12, 1955
French, English Egyptian Arabic (?). Tan background, red and black text. Size: 7.5" x 11" (small). Two copies.
10.2 Poster mock-ups and drawings, circa 1950s
Multiple "Porgy and Bess" poster mock-ups, set/scene drawings, and copies of drawings. Included is a program for a Federal Theatre Project "Negro Unit" production of Macbeth.
Return to the Table of Contents