Textile Design

1953-1959 (designed)
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Great Britain’s leading theatre designer from the early 1930s to the mid 1950s, Oliver Messel (1904-1978) won international acclaim for his lavish, painterly and poetic designs informed by period styles. His work spans ballet, drama, film, musical, opera and revue. Messel’s traditional style of theatre design became unfashionable from the mid 1950s onwards, and he increasingly concentrated on painting, interior and textile design, including designing luxury homes in the Caribbean.

In addition to his work as a theatre designer, Messel designed textiles for the silk making firm Sekers based in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Sir Nicholas Sekers, the owner of the silk mill and a great supporter of the theatre, regularly supplied the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne with fabrics and met Messel in the early 1950s. Both men shared a belief in exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail. Messel’s contemporary artists, Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) and Graham Sutherland (1903-1980), also designed fabrics for the firm.

To celebrate the Coronation of Elizabeth I in 1953, Sekers commissioned Messel to design silk brocade patterns, known as the ‘Coronation Collection’. Messel also created designs for taffeta in 1959.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pencil, gouache, paint, watercolour on paper
Brief Description
Textile design with fishes by Oliver Messel for Sekers, silk manufacturer, 1953 or 1959.
Physical Description
Fish, a design for a textile pattern in gouache, gold paint, watercolour and ink.
Dimensions
  • Height: 37.9cm
  • Width: 25.1cm
Production typeDesign
Marks and Inscriptions
'Oliver Messel' (Artist's signature in pencil on the bottom right hand corner on the front of the sheet.)
Credit line
Acquired with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Art Fund and the Friends of the V&A
Object history
Lord Snowdon, Oliver Messel's nephew, inherited Messel's theatre designs and other designs and artefacts. The designs were briefly stored in a disused chapel in Kensington Palace before being housed at the V&A from 1981 on indefinite loan. The V&A Theatre Museum purchased the Oliver Messel collection from Lord Snowdon in 2005.
Production
Possibly designed for the 'Coronation Collection', 1953, or possibly later, 1959.



Reason For Production: Commission
Association
Summary
Great Britain’s leading theatre designer from the early 1930s to the mid 1950s, Oliver Messel (1904-1978) won international acclaim for his lavish, painterly and poetic designs informed by period styles. His work spans ballet, drama, film, musical, opera and revue. Messel’s traditional style of theatre design became unfashionable from the mid 1950s onwards, and he increasingly concentrated on painting, interior and textile design, including designing luxury homes in the Caribbean.



In addition to his work as a theatre designer, Messel designed textiles for the silk making firm Sekers based in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Sir Nicholas Sekers, the owner of the silk mill and a great supporter of the theatre, regularly supplied the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne with fabrics and met Messel in the early 1950s. Both men shared a belief in exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail. Messel’s contemporary artists, Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) and Graham Sutherland (1903-1980), also designed fabrics for the firm.



To celebrate the Coronation of Elizabeth I in 1953, Sekers commissioned Messel to design silk brocade patterns, known as the ‘Coronation Collection’. Messel also created designs for taffeta in 1959.
Bibliographic Reference
Pinkham, Roger (ed.) Oliver Messel: an exhibition held at the Theatre Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, 22 June - 30 September 1983. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983. 200p., ill ISBN 0905209508)
Other Number
ROT 7947 - TM Rotation Number
Collection
Accession Number
S.430-2006

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdOctober 2, 2006
Record URL