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Set design - Acis and Galatea
  • Acis and Galatea
    Stanfield, Clarkson RA, born 1793 - died 1867
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Acis and Galatea

  • Object:

    Set design

  • Place of origin:

    London (possibly, painted)

  • Date:

    1842 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Stanfield, Clarkson RA, born 1793 - died 1867 (theatre designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Water-colour and gouache on card, mica or talc and silk

  • Credit Line:

    Acquired from the Bagshawe Estate

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Design for Acis and Galatea, a worked up version of S.71-2000, showing a moonlight view out to sea with a sweeping bay stretching to the right with a beach downstage and, to left, cliffs with palm trees above and rocks below and a distant rock arch out to sea. The bay a cut covered with an attached painted sheet of isinglass overlay transparency with painted silk attached to the lower edge to simulate lapping waves. A model slot has been cut into the design to the right. The card on which the design is painted consists of two thick sheets which have been joined horizontally.

Place of Origin

London (possibly, painted)


1842 (painted)


Stanfield, Clarkson RA, born 1793 - died 1867 (theatre designer)

Materials and Techniques

Water-colour and gouache on card, mica or talc and silk

Marks and inscriptions

Stamp; Upper right hand corner


Height: 600 mm, Width: 600 mm

Object history note

Clarkson Stanfield had two children by his first marriage and ten by his second to Rebecca Adcock (d.1876). The theatre designs, S.13 - S.99-2000, and other Stanfield studio residue passed to the oldest surviving son of the second marriage, George Clarkson Stanfield (1828-78), also a painter. He died of liver disease at the Hampstead home of his sister, Harriet Thesesa (1837-1911). In 1861 Harriet had married William Henry Gunning Bagshaw (1825-1901), a barrister, QC and judge, and the couple had a large family, of whom the fifth child, Joseph John Richard Bagshawe (1870-1909), was also a professional artist. Joseph married in 1901 and had two sons, Edward and K.G.R., the latter becoming a solicitor in the firm of Seaton, Gray, Bell and Bagshawe at Whitby. The collection of Clarkson Stanfield designs (S.13 - S.99-2000) was discovered in K.G.R. Bagshawe's attic on the latter's death. It had presumably been left with his grandmother, Harriet, on George Stanfield's death and been passed down through the family. K.G.R.'s daughter, Susie, took the designs to Christie's for a probate valuation, and Christie's alerted Dr Pieter van der Merwe of the National Maritime Museum, an acknowledged expect on Clarkson Stanfield. Dr van der Merwe then contacted the Theatre Museum. The collection comprises working designs and model pieces made in the Drury Lane scene room from the mid-1820s to the mid-1840s.

This design was made for George Frideric Handel's serenata, Acis and Galatea, staged by William Charles Macready at Drury Lane Theatre, 5 February 1842, and shows the 'breaking waves' moonlight scene revealed on the rising of the curtain. The scene contained one of Stanfield's most famous effects, a 'rolling wave' which mechanically created the impression of the sea breaking on the beach and then receding. The production was restaged by George Vining at the Princess's Theatre on 2 August 1869, using the same designs which were lent by Clarkson Stanfield's family.

Descriptive line

Design by Clarkson Stanfield for the opening of Acis and Galatea, Drury Lane Theatre, 1842


Water-colour; Gouache; Card; Mica (mineral); Talc (mineral); Silk (textile)


Painting; Glueing


Entertainment & Leisure; Opera; Designs

Production Type



Theatre and Performance Collection

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