Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Costume design - H.M.S. Pinafore
  • H.M.S. Pinafore
    Goffin, Peter, born 1906 - died 1974
  • Enlarge image

H.M.S. Pinafore

  • Object:

    Costume design

  • Place of origin:

    London (designed)

  • Date:

    1961 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Goffin, Peter, born 1906 - died 1974 (designers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    watercolour and bodycolour over 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

HMS Pinafore, or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan was produced at the Opera Comique Theatre under the management of the Comedy Opera Company, on Saturday 25th May 1878 until 24 December and from Saturday 1st until Thursday 20th February 1879.

Delighted with The Sorcerer, D’Oyly Carte commissioned a new work from Gilbert and Sullivan in December 1877. Britain was a seafaring nation, and Gilbert’s new libretto satirised the popular nautical melodramas of his youth such as Douglas Jerrold’s Black Eye’d Susan. Gilbert had featured nautical folk and language in his Bab Ballads, and developed them in H.M.S. Pinafore, a shipboard opera that opened in May 1878 featuring the considerate Captain Corcoran, his gallant crew, the dastardly Dick Deadeye, the First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Joseph Porter (a thinly-veiled portrait of the bookseller turned politician W.H. Smith), his sisters, cousins and aunts, and Buttercup the Bumboat woman.

After a slow start due to a summer heatwave, the opera was a hit by August after Sullivan included its sparkling tunes in a Covent Garden concert. Angered by a host of unauthorised American productions starting with one in Boston in November 1878, Carte planned its first authorised American production which opened the following year at New York’s Fifth Avenue Theatre in December 1879, with Sullivan conducting.

Peter Goffin (1906-1974) was born in Plymouth, the son of William Earl Goffin and Elizabeth Goffin and worked as an interior decorator and mural painter before designing for his local repertory theatre in Plymouth, and overseeing the staging, costumes and lighting of the Dance Drama group at Dartington Hall from 1931 to 1934. In 1936 Goffin worked at the Westminster Theatre as the designer on a wide variety of productions including T.S. Eliot’s The Reunion, and went on to work for Rupert D’Oyly Carte to redesign his new production of The Yeomen of the Guard in 1938.

For Rupert and later Bridget D'Oyly Carte, he designed new sets and costumes for Ruddigore, 1948, Patience, 1957, The Gondoliers, 1958, Trial By Jury, 1959, and HMS Pinafore and Iolanthe, 1961. He designed a new set for The Mikado, 1958, and created an interchangeable ‘unit set’ for the operas that the company toured. He wrote books on stage lighting and management and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1948.

Physical description

Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil on paper. The design features a female figure wearing a red, white and blue dress which includes a pale blue skirt with dark blue trim; a white and dark blue striped overskirt; pale blue jacket with dark blue buttons and cuffs.

Place of Origin

London (designed)


1961 (designed)


Goffin, Peter, born 1906 - died 1974 (designers)

Materials and Techniques

watercolour and bodycolour over pencil on paper


Height: 28 cm, Width: 19.2 cm

Descriptive line

Costume design by Peter Goffin for a Sister, Cousin or Aunt from a production of H.M.S. Pinafore, Savoy Theatre, 1961


Watercolour; Bodycolour; Pencil; Paper


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


Entertainment & Leisure; Theatre; Designs


Theatre and Performance Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.