I’ll be honest, I didn’t buy this poster. I blagged it. Blagging is a necessary skill to have if you ever want to get your hands on unique finds like this original show poster from the Abbey Theatre. Some years ago, I was walking down Dublin’s Parnell Street when I saw a van parked outside the Abbey sticking posters on the wall when instinct struck – I ran over and asked if he had anything interesting to give me. I got this and a promo poster for the film The Notorious Bettie Page, long gone unfortunately. But Ernst (as I call him) has remained. He was the first thing to go up on the walls of my new home, and is usually the first thing new visitors comment on (the women tend to be slightly more appreciative).
It was years later when I decided to a little research on Ernst that I discovered he was painted by the fantastic Irish illustrator P.J. Lynch for this run of Oscar Wilde’s play at the Abbey Theatre. I had a few books of P.J.’s as a child and to realise that I had one of his works on my wall unbeknownst to me was thrilling. I collected illustrated books for years, and loved the work of Arthur Rackham, Eric Kincaid, Anthony Browne, and Mabel Lucy Attwell to name a few. But the fact that it’s an accomplished Irish artist illustrating a legendary Irish play for an renowned Irish theatre satisfies my patriotism and Irish pride every time I look at it. It’s not the only reason I look of course; as a friend once asked, “Why do you like it so much?”; “It has a bum in it”, I replied. Enough said.