- Place of origin:
mid 18th century
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
This costume is a rare surviving 18th century costume made specially for the stage. Baroque theatre evolved a special type of costume for heroic and tragic roles based on Roman military dress, the breastplates and strip-kilted skirt of the uniforms becoming formalised and the chasing becoming gold padded embroidery. The underlying hessian, which gives substance and structure, and the cardboard-backed glass 'jewels' are in stark contrast to the expensive velvets and metal thread embroidery, braids and fringing which make up the body of the costume.
Private theatres like Meleto were very small, so the audience was very close to the performers and the candlelight shone equally on stage and audience. Thus, while the silver and gold embroidery would have caught the flickering light, fine details would have been harder to appreciate; this enabled the maker to mix finely worked embroidery with more theatrical, bolder effects, like the cardboard and glass 'jewels'.
Although the fabrics are worn on the surface, they have survived surprisingly well on the inside of pleats and other areas where the material has been covered.
Theatre costume worn in private court performances in Italy, ca. 1750. Pink and gold tinsel brocade costume skirted with short tri-part sleeves over fitted silk sleeves. Decorated in raised gold strip embroidery and braiding in elaborate stylized design with central medallions (some missing).
Place of Origin
mid 18th century
Object history note
This costume comes from Meleto Castle in Tuscany, where there is a private theatre, which was opened in 1741. The costume is of the same date as the theatre, but was probably bought in, and not made specifically for Meleto.
Theatre costume worn in private court performances at the Meleto Castle, Tuscany, ca.1750.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Inaugural Conference for the Ricasoli Collection Patrons, Politics, Music and Art in Italy, 1738-1859. University of Louisville, March 14-18, 1989
Silk (textile); Braid; Brocade