Posted 5 years ago
Thurston DEVIL PANEL (c.1926)
By Chris Berry
The image of the devil has been a part of magician's advertising for many decades - and not without controversy!
While no one knows the origins of "Devil Imps" the concept is tied to the fact that the magician apparently has supernatural powers - and because of that must be "in league with Satan."
Kellar was the first to prominently display the "devil imps" in his classic 1894 Strobridge lithograph. In that image two small devils appear to be whispering in his ear, no doubt sharing the secrets of magic.
By the time the artists at Otis Litho of Cleveland, Ohio produced this half-sheet panel (approx 14"x42") in the late 1920s, the devil image was popularly associated with stage magicians. Through his use of a "Spirit Cabinet," Thurston presented the illusion that he was able to manifest spirits in the form of disembodied ghosts, ringing bells and flying objects. The association with the supernatural was so powerful that there are several posters featuring Thurston which beg the question "Do The Spirits Return?"
This particular lithograph features the devil image alone, a powerful statement, designed to attract an audience - particularly youngsters who might have more of a unsophisticated perspective on the illusions that would be presented by the master magician, yet one might have to question whether there might be some shopowners (or even theatre managers) who might not want this poster displayed on their premises because of the anti-Christian message that it might conjure in the minds of patrons to their establishment.
This poster has been widely reproduced, however the original was only created in the standard 14"x42" size.
(Chris Berry Collection)