This majestic and otherworldly oil-on-board by the New York illustrator A.D. Rahn is a reflection on the decadence of the Broadway stage circa 1915. A beautiful and haughty blonde, whose bobbed hair and dropped waist gown evoke Irene Castle, is seen emerging from backstage with the help of a green imp, her own high minded attitude is captured by the halo that surrounds her. Holding a small dog in another nod to Castle, who was notorious for taking her pets (including a monkey) on publicity tours with her, this original illustration evokes the almost superhuman power stars held, while suggesting the dark underworld dangers of a life on stage for beautiful women.
Angelo Donald Rahn was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1871. With his wife Beatrice Rahn (nee. Binnix), he moved to New York City where he worked as a freelance illustrator contributing cover art and interior work for mainstream magazines such as Metropolitan, Boy’s Life, McCall’s, and St. Nicholas. Along with these commissions, he also worked as a prolific book illustrator for the publishing house Grosset and Dunlap among others. We have not yet been able to locate the exact usage of this piece, but our best guess is that it appeared as an interior bookplate. The board verso shows one notation that appears to read “Return of the Morning” and another we cannot make out.