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Gertrude

  • Object:

    Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1942 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hurry, Leslie, born 1909 - died 1978 (designers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Human hair on mesh netting

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Royal Academy of Dance

  • Museum number:

    S.1548A-1982

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Headdress and wig for Gertrude in Robert Helpmann's ballet Hamlet, first performed by the Sadler's Wells Ballet at the New Theatre, 1942. The ballet - inspired by William Shakespeare's play of the same name - used music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and the scenery and costumes were designed by Leslie Hurry. This wig and headdress were probably worn in the 1958 revival of the ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, or for the subsequent Royal Ballet Touring Company version. Parts of the wig have been replaced and repaired, suggesting that it may have been made for the original 1942 production and subsequently repaired and reused in the revival.

Physical description

Wig and headdress for Gertrude in Hamlet. The wig is made from long red human hair on a caul net cap. The cap has a band front over the forehead made from silk gauze. The original band front has been replaced and the old front cut back, suggesting that the wig was made prior to the 1958 production and has been repaired and reused over the years. Black drawstrings at the nape of the wig would have secured the wig on the head. The hairs at the forehead and nape have been knotted in to the cap individually, while the majority of the hair is weft sewn in to the net foundation. A long heavy braid has been coiled and pinned to the back of the wig, forming a large bun, adorned with beads. The headdress is a tall crown made from metal wire and painted gold, adorned with faux pearls and coloured beads. Elastic would have secured the crown on the head.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1942 (designed)

Artist/maker

Hurry, Leslie, born 1909 - died 1978 (designers)

Materials and Techniques

Human hair on mesh netting

Dimensions

Circumference: 55.8 cm Wig, Height: 26.2 cm Headdress, Circumference: 62.2 cm Headdress

Object history note

Headdress and wig for Gertrude in Robert Helpmann's ballet 'Hamlet', first performed by the Sadler's Wells (now Royal) Ballet at the New (now Albery) Theatre, 19th May 1942. The ballet, inspired by William Shakespeare's play of the same name, used music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The scenery and costumes were designed by Leslie Hurry.

The Headdress and wig were probably worn in the 1958 revival of the ballet at the Royal Opera House, or the subsequent Royal Ballet Touring Company version.

Descriptive line

Headdress and wig for Gertrude in Robert Helpmann's ballet Hamlet, The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 1958

Materials

Human hair; Mesh; Netting; Beads; Silk gauze

Techniques

Wig-making

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Dance

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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