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Costume design - Hugh Stevenson design
  • Hugh Stevenson design
    Stevenson, Hugh, born 1910 - died 1956
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Hugh Stevenson design

  • Object:

    Costume design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (drawn)

  • Date:

    1950 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Stevenson, Hugh, born 1910 - died 1956 (costume designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and gouache on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Cyril W Beaumont Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Costume design by Hugh Stevenson for Polonius (played by John Wyse) in Hamlet, showing a full-length male grey-bearded figure, wearing a black fitted cap and a long belted and wide-sleeved brown red robe with a square yoke in ochre with a black serrated edged inset; the sleeves are edged in ochre banded black and the black belt has narrow running lines forming rough lozenges. Under the costume, seen at the lower arms, is a doublet in red brown with ochre bands and white ovals indicating slashing. The right hand, on which are two rings, holds a long staff banded ochre. The design is inscribed with the name of the role, actor and fabric details and is signed and dated.
The ochre paint is used to indicate gold braid or metal.
On the back, in a different hand, are details about the provenance and identification of the designs.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (drawn)


1950 (painted)


Stevenson, Hugh, born 1910 - died 1956 (costume designer)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and gouache on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Polonius. / John Wyse.'
Textual information; Upper right hand corner; Handwriting; Pencil

'Hugh Stevenson. / 1950.'
Signature; date; Lower left hand corner; Handwriting; Pencil

'coating cloth.'
Textual information; Upper left corner; Handwriting; Pencil

'serge or coating / felt collar applique'
Textual information; Upper left hand corner; Handwriting; Pencil

'These were willed on to us / They were designed by the late Hugh Stevenson / for a Concert Tour in Italy'
Textual information; Top edge reverse side; Handwriting; Pencil


Height: 558 mm, Width: 380 mm

Object history note

This is one of 25 designs by Hugh Stevenson for a programme of excerpts from Shakespeare devised for a tour of Italy (possibly under the British Council) in the early 1950s. It was performed by a small company led by Walter Fitzgerald and called for costumes that would clearly indicate the different characters while allowing for quick changes. This Stevenson achieved by creating a basic costume in the Elizabethan style for each actor to which were added robes, tunics, overdresses or accessories.
The designs are part of the collection that came to the Museum from the dance historian and publisher Cyril Beaumont and may originally have formed part of the London Archives of the Dance.

Historical significance: A group of designs showing how a designer solves the problem of creating costumes for a programme of extracts from various Shakespeare plays (which means allowing for quick changes), by creating several basic costumes which can be adapted, or to which accessories can be added, to indicate specific characters

Descriptive line

Costume design by Hugh Stevenson for Polonius (played by John Wyse) in Hamlet in a programme of scenes from Shakespeare, British Council tour, early 1950s


Pencil; Gouache; Paper


Drawing (image-making); Painting

Subjects depicted



Entertainment & Leisure; Theatre; Designs

Production Type



Theatre and Performance Collection

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