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Costume design - Patience


  • Object:

    Costume design

  • Place of origin:

    London (designed)

  • Date:

    1919 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rumbold, Hugo, born 1884 - died 1932 (designers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour over pencil and ink on toned 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

Patience, or, Bunthorne’s Bride by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan was produced at the Opera Comique Theatre under the management of Richard D’Oyly Carte on Saturday 23rd April 1881, and transferred to the Savoy Theatre on Monday 10th October 1881 until Thursday 23rd November 1882.

By 1880 Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas were a success on both sides of the Atlantic. Realising the limitations of the old-fashioned Opera Comique Theatre, and the public’s undiminished appetite for these profitable comic operas, Carte planned a new theatre for them in London’s Strand. Gilbert started a libretto based on The Rival Curates, his 1867 Bab Ballad concerning two clergymen of neighbouring parishes vying with each other for meekness. Concerned about church reaction however, he turned his satire on Oscar Wilde and Aestheticism, changing the Reverends Clayton Hooper and Hopley Porter into Reginald Bunthorne and Archibald Grosvenor, rival poets competing for the affections of the sensible milkmaid Patience, and the Aesthetic maidens who spurn the officers of the Thirty-Fifth Dragoon Guards. Patience opened at the Opera Comique and received even more critical acclaim in October on its transfer to Carte’s brilliant new theatre, complete with electric light. By sending Oscar Wilde on a North American lecture tour at the end of 1881, Carte helped assure its transatlantic success.

The theatre designer and film producer Hugo Cecil Levigne Rumbold (1884-1932) was born in Stockholm, the son of the diplomat Sir Horace Rumbold, and educated at Eton. He served in the Boer War and the First World War where he reached the rank of Captain before he was invalided out of active service, but in 1913 designed the sets and costumes for William Faversham’s American and Canadian tour of Romeo and Juliet with Faversham and Cissie Loftus that The San Francisco Call said would make American theatregoers gasp for its original scenery and costumes, its balcony scene without a balcony, set in a moonlit garden with blue and purple cypresses against the pink wall of a Veronese villa.

Rumbold designed the ladies’ costumes and make-up for the 1919 revival of Patience at the Prince’s Theatre when The Times reviewer, 25 November 1919 wrote: ‘Mr Bridges-Adams’s scenery and Mr. Hugo Rumbold’s beautiful dresses loyally serve the spirit of the evening’. He worked on several other London productions including Arms and the Man, Duke of York’s 1919, and The Tempest, Aldwych Theatre, 1921. He died in California where he later worked as a film producer and married his wife Zoë Atkins in 1932, a few months before his death.

Place of Origin

London (designed)


1919 (designed)


Rumbold, Hugo, born 1884 - died 1932 (designers)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour over pencil and ink on toned paper

Descriptive line

Costume design by Hugo Rumbold for Female Chorus Member from a production of Patience, Princes Theatre, 24 November 1919


Bodycolour; Watercolour; Pencil; Toned paper


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


Entertainment & Leisure; Opera; Designs; Theatre


Theatre and Performance Collection

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