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Museum Exhibition - Powerful Posters: Tennis and Advertising, 1893-2015

Why posters?

Lawn Tennis Championships Wimbledon, Edwin Trim, 1893
Lawn Tennis Championships Wimbledon, Edwin Trim, 1893

A good poster uses minimal text and a striking image to communicate a clear message.

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum has over 600 posters – most of them advertise tennis equipment and tournaments – but around a fifth show how the popularity of tennis has been harnessed to advertise some unexpected things.

The image of the athletic, glamorous and sophisticated tennis player has appeared on posters promoting everything from fashion to film, mountain resorts to milk.

The exhibition will show the earliest poster from the collection, an 1893 letterpress poster advertising The Championships (pictured).

This will be accompanied by the 2015 Championships poster and original artwork, created by artist Yulia Brodskaya.

However, the exhibition will also show how tennis has been used to advertise some surprising products.

Tennis holidays

Tennis Holidays, Lewis Baumer, 1920s
Tennis Holidays, Lewis Baumer, 1920s

Images of tennis have long been used to promote travel and tourism both in the UK and further afield.  Fashionable and glamorous poster art captivated both men and women, encouraging the elite crowd to travel and to be seen socialising at all of the finest resorts.  

Tennis in the spotlight

Skipped by the Light of the Moon, Dudley Hardy, 1896
Skipped by the Light of the Moon, Dudley Hardy, 1896

From the beginning of its popularity in the nineteenth century to the present day, tennis has featured in theatre, film and dance. A recent addition to the collection is the dress and racket used in the famous Athena ‘Tennis Girl’ poster.

Fuelled by tennis

Sauvion’s Brandy, Joseph Stall, 1925
Sauvion’s Brandy, Joseph Stall, 1925

Tennis is a sport that symbolises health and vitality. It is popular with both men and women, which makes tennis an ideal choice for brands to promote their goods.

Some of the products in these posters and their association with a healthy lifestyle might be surprising to us today. They are, however, a reflection of their time and provide us with an insight into how the field of sports nutrition has developed.

Serving up style

International Tailoring Company, Artist Unknown, c1900
International Tailoring Company, Artist Unknown, c1900

For over a century, fashion brands have used tennis to promote their products by showing the fun, healthy and glamorous lifestyle associated with the sport. 

See for yourself...

Wimbledon Awaits, Yulia Brodskaya, 2015
Wimbledon Awaits, Yulia Brodskaya, 2015

Powerful Posters will run from 20 March 2015 until March 2016 at Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. Entrance to the exhibition is included in the normal admission price. While you’re here, why not take a tour of The Grounds?

Click here to find out opening times, dates and prices

All images are from the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum collection. 

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