Not currently on display at the V&A

Acrobat's costume

Theatre Costume
ca.1880 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

These trunks, gloriously decorated with embroidered pansies and trimmed with metallic braid, are a marvellous example of the flamboyant costume that 19th century male acrobats frequently wore in conjunction with full-body white leotards and often a neck-piece, similarly embroidered and trimmed. The survival of 19th century theatre costume is comparatively rare and that for circus and variety acts even more so, perhaps because costumes worn in energetic physical acts frequently wore out, and because they were essentially working clothes and not considered as objects of any historic worth.

The trunks were made for and worn by Edwin Moxon (1857-1845) who was born in Reading and ran away to join the circus, aged 17. He travelled all over the world performing a foot-juggling act in circuses and variety theatres. He performed in Russia for seven years, spoke several languages fluently and had thirteen children. When they were old enough, the two eldest children were trained to join him in the family act, the Moxon Trio. His thirteenth child, Eileen, who used the stage name Levanda, performed the act in circus and cabaret in the 1940s with her daughter Judy, appearing as Levanda and Van. Judy went on to travel the world with the act independently in the 1960s, performing tricks passed down from her grandfather.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Embroidered silk with cream calico lining and applied metal filigree trim.
Brief Description
Trunks worn by the foot-juggling acrobat Edwin Moxon (1857-1945), embroidered silk with metal filigree trim, lined with calico
Physical Description
Aquamarine blue silk satin trunks appliqued with embroidered designs of pansies front and back. A looped metal braid trim has been couch stitched around the leg and hip line. The trunks are lined with cream calico and fastened at the front with a vertical row of eight metal hooks and eyes.
Dimensions
  • Back, top edge to crotch seam length: 32cm (Maximum)
  • Front, top edge to crotch seam length: 21.5cm (Maximum)
  • Waist measured inside circumference: 70cm (Maximum) (Note: waist)
Measured by conservation
Credit line
Given by Judy Moxon
Object history
Trunks worn in his act by the acrobat Edwin Moxon (1857-1945) and kept in the family until they were given to the museum by his grand-daughter Judy Moxon in 2005.
Association
Summary
These trunks, gloriously decorated with embroidered pansies and trimmed with metallic braid, are a marvellous example of the flamboyant costume that 19th century male acrobats frequently wore in conjunction with full-body white leotards and often a neck-piece, similarly embroidered and trimmed. The survival of 19th century theatre costume is comparatively rare and that for circus and variety acts even more so, perhaps because costumes worn in energetic physical acts frequently wore out, and because they were essentially working clothes and not considered as objects of any historic worth.



The trunks were made for and worn by Edwin Moxon (1857-1845) who was born in Reading and ran away to join the circus, aged 17. He travelled all over the world performing a foot-juggling act in circuses and variety theatres. He performed in Russia for seven years, spoke several languages fluently and had thirteen children. When they were old enough, the two eldest children were trained to join him in the family act, the Moxon Trio. His thirteenth child, Eileen, who used the stage name Levanda, performed the act in circus and cabaret in the 1940s with her daughter Judy, appearing as Levanda and Van. Judy went on to travel the world with the act independently in the 1960s, performing tricks passed down from her grandfather.
Associated Objects
Collection
Accession Number
S.541-2014

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record createdFebruary 21, 2014
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