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Fabric samples

Fabric samples

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1950 - 1953 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Messel, Oliver Hilary Sambourne, born 1904 - died 1978 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fabric, card and sticky tape, with printed card annotated in ink.

  • Credit Line:

    Acquired with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Art Fund and the Friends of the V&A

  • Museum number:

    S.803-2011

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Oliver Messel (1904-1978) was Britain's leading theatre designer throughout the 1930s, '40s and '50s, mastering every aspect of entertainment - ballet, drama, film, musical, opera and revue - as well as working in interior decoration and textile design. His lavish, painterly and romantic concepts were perfectly in tune with the times and earned him an international reputation. By 1960, however, that style was becoming unfashionable, and Messel gradually abandoned theatre and built a new career designing luxury homes in the Caribbean.

Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, with libretto by Hugo von Hofsmannsthal, was originally a one-act opera, written to follow performances of Molière’s 1670 comic play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme and first staged in 1912. The difficulties of presenting such a lengthy evening’s entertainment, which required both an acting company and an opera company, led Strauss to revise the work in 1916 so that it could be staged without the play. Glyndebourne Festival Opera presented the original 1912 opera preceded by a shortened version of Le Bourgeoise gentilhomme at the 1950 Edinburgh Festival, with sets and costumes by Oliver Messel. In 1953 the 1916 version was staged at Glyndebourne with new designs by Messel and these designs were used in revivals throughout the 1950s. In 1962 Glyndebourne restaged its Edinburgh Festival production with an acting company from the Old Vic and reverted to Messel’s 1950 designs.

These fabric samples were assembled by Messel in preparation for the production.

Physical description

Eight fabric swatches attached to a piece of card with sticky tape. Two of the swatches are attached to haberdashers' order cards. The cards are printed and have manuscript annotations in ink, one is inscribed 'Indian Silk / Handwoven / 40" 7.50', the other is inscribed 'Handwoven / [illegible] Silk / 40" 9.00'.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1950 - 1953 (made)

Artist/maker

Messel, Oliver Hilary Sambourne, born 1904 - died 1978 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Fabric, card and sticky tape, with printed card annotated in ink.

Object history note

Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, with libretto by Hugo von Hofsmannsthal, was originally a one-act opera, written to follow performances of Molière’s play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme in 1912. In 1916 Strauss revised the work so that it could be staged without Molière’s drama.

Glyndebourne Festival Opera presented Strauss’s original opera with a shortened version of Le Bourgeoise gentilhomme at the 1950 Edinburgh Festival. Oliver Messel designed the settings and costumes. In 1953 the 1916 version of Ariadne auf Naxos was given at Glyndebourne with new designs by Messel, and these designs were used in revivals throughout the 1950s. In 1962 Glyndebourne restaged its Edinburgh Festival production with an acting company from the Old Vic and reverted to Messel’s 1950 designs.

Lord Snowdon, Oliver Messel's nephew, inherited Messel's theatre designs and other designs and artefacts. The designs were briefly stored in a disused chapel in Kensington Palace before being housed at the V&A from 1981 on indefinite loan. The V&A Theatre Museum purchased the Oliver Messel collection from Lord Snowdon in 2005.

Descriptive line

Eight swatches of fabric on a piece of card with two printed and manuscript order cards, for costumes for Richard Strauss's opera Ariadne auf Naxos, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1950 or 1953, designed by Oliver Messel.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Pinkham, Roger (ed.) Oliver Messel: an exhibition held at the Theatre Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, 22 June - 30 September 1983. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983. 200p., ill.

Materials

Cloth; Card; Sellotape; Printing ink; Ink

Techniques

Taping

Categories

Textiles

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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