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Costume design
  • Costume design
    Rowell, Kenneth, born 1920 - died 1999
  • Enlarge image

Costume design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1954 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rowell, Kenneth, born 1920 - died 1999 (costume designers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour, pencil and ink on paper

  • Museum number:

    S.1143-2011

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Costume design by Kenneth Rowell for Bianca in William Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew, Old Vic Company, 1954.

In 1953 the Directors of the Old Vic announced that the theatre would present all 36 of the plays published in Shakespeare's First Folio in the following five years. The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Denis Carey, opening on 30 November 1954. Kenneth Rowell designed the sets and costumes, creating a world of bright primary colours. 'There could be no doubt from the moment the curtain went up that this was to be a comedy' wrote Mary Clarke in the book which commemorated the second season of the five year plan. The costumes were loosely based on Elizabethan and Renaissance fashions. Gwen Cherrell, who played Bianca as 'an infuriatingly sweet and sugary little idiot' according to Clarke, wore this costume in the final, wedding, scene.

Kenneth Rowell (1920-1999) began designing for dance in his native Australia in the 1940s. Following the success of his designs for Ballet Rambert's 1949 Australian tour, Marie Rambert and Laurence Olivier recommended Rowell for a British Council scholarship, and in 1950 he came to London to study. Two years late John Gielgud commissioned him to create the costumes for Macbeth at Stratford-upon-Avon and this established Rowell as a major stage designer. Based in England for thirty years, he worked as both a designer and a painter, returning to live in Australia in 1982.

Physical description

Costume design for Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew, showing a full length female figure in a tight bodiced dress with a 'farthingale' skirt and overskirt, the bodice in blue-grey with a line of large circles down the front, alternately pink and yellow, the skirt in pale blue decorated with similar circles randomly coloured blue-grey, yellow and pink, the overskirt and sleeves decorated all over with small black dots, the sleeves puffed at shoulders and decorated with more grey-blue, yellow and pink circles. the neckline edged with black 'stars'. Similar stars decorate the headdress.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1954 (made)

Artist/maker

Rowell, Kenneth, born 1920 - died 1999 (costume designers)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour, pencil and ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

''The Taming of the Shrew''
Annotation in pencil, upper right hand corner.

'Bianca / 2nd Costume / Gwen'
Annotation in pencil, upper right hand side

'Kenneth Rowell'
Artist's signature in pencil, lower right hand corner.

Dimensions

Height: 57.7 cm, Width: 39 cm

Descriptive line

Costume design by Kenneth Rowell for Bianca in William Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew, Old Vic Company, 1954.

Materials

Watercolour; Pencil; Ink; Paper

Techniques

Drawing (image-making); Painting (image-making)

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Designs

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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