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Sketches - Princess Ida

Princess Ida

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (designed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1919 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Home, Percy (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour and pencil on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Bridget D'Oyly Carte.
    The V&A wishes to acknowledge the generous support given by The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, which facilitated the cataloguing of the D’Oyly Carte Archive designs in 2015/16.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan was produced at the Savoy Theatre under the management of Richard D’Oyly Carte on Saturday 5th January 1884 until Saturday 16th August 1884, and from Monday 15th September until Thursday 9th October 1884.

Agreeing on a new subject after Iolanthe proved difficult. Gilbert suggested his ‘magic lozenge’ plot in which characters magically transformed themselves by swallowing one - the idea he had used for his 1873 play The Wicked World. Sullivan wanted a story of more human interest, and eventually agreed on Princess Ida, Gilbert’s ‘respectful perversion’ of Tennyson’s 1847 narrative poem The Princess that Gilbert had previously dramatized in The Princess, staged at the Olympic Theatre in January 1870. Set in Castle Adamant where Princess Ida, the daughter of the crotchety King Gama, runs a women’s college, Princess Ida was a satire on women’s education, a controversial subject in 1847 when Queen’s College opened in London, and in 1870, the year after the establishment of Girton College, Cambridge. The only Gilbert and Sullivan three act opera, and the only one in blank verse, it contains some of Sullivan’s most operatic music but did not enjoy the lasting success of their previous works and was not revived in London during D’Oyly Carte’s management.

Physical description

Sketch by Percy Home of Bertha Lewis as Lady Blanche in Princess Ida, ca. 1919. The sketch features a three quarter length image of a woman with the handwritten title 'Bertha Lewis.' She is standing with her arms clasped in front of her and wearing a long dress and cloak with wide stiff shoulders in tones of green. A rust red and yellow stole is draped over her right shoulder and she is also wearing a hat with high, raised, curved sections projecting from either side of the front brim. The design is mounting inside a folded sheet of cream paper.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (designed)


ca. 1919 (designed)


Home, Percy (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour and pencil on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Bertha Lewis'
Handwritten annotation in black pencil crayon, right hand side of sketch.


Height: 24.7 cm, Width: 17.6 cm

Descriptive line

Sketch, executed during a performance by Percy Home, showing Bertha Lewis as Lady Blanche in Princess Ida, ca. 1919


Watercolour; Pencil; Paper


Drawing; Painting


Entertainment & Leisure; Designs; Theatre


Theatre and Performance Collection

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