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Costume design - Costume design by Berkley Sutcliffe
  • Costume design by Berkley Sutcliffe
    Sutcliffe, Berkeley, born 1918 - died 1979
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Costume design by Berkley Sutcliffe

  • Object:

    Costume design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1946 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sutcliffe, Berkeley, born 1918 - died 1979 (costume designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and watercolour on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Anthony Hiller Gow

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Berkeley Sutcliffe (1918-1979) was one of the leading stage designers of the mid 20th century. He was best known for his spectacular and amusing scenery and for the costumes which he designed for revue, musicals and pantomimes, but he also worked for the Bristol Old Vic, creating costumes and settings for Shakespeare. Sutcliffe successfully combined theatre work with a career at the famous London department store, Fortnum and Mason, where he was head designer, and for which he devised the clock that became its symbol..

This design shows a great lady in a 19th-century ball gown but it was not made for a 19th-century play. It is a costume for Portia in a production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice directed by Stuart Latham for the Bristol Old Vic Company. The wearer, Wendy Hiller (1912-2003), trained at the Manchester Repertory Theatre in 1930 and made her West End debut, to great acclaim, in 1935 when she appeared as Sally Hardcastle in Love on the Dole. She went on to star in numerous roles on the stage and in film and television, and was awarded a DBE in 1975.

Physical description

Pencil and watercolour costume design for Portia in The Merchant of Venice; a low-cut mustard yellow dress with a full skirt, tight-fitting bodice and elbow-length muslin sleeves, gathered above the elbow with a band of pink and white flowers. Signed Berkeley Sutcliffe and inscribed recto: 'The Merchant of Venice Portia - Miss Wendy Hiller'. Inscribed in pencil verso with an address but the lower edge has been trimmed so that it is only partly legible.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1946 (designed)


Sutcliffe, Berkeley, born 1918 - died 1979 (costume designer)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and watercolour on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Berkeley Sutcliffe'
Signed, bottom right hand corner

'The Merchant of Venice Portia - Miss Wendy Hiller'
Inscibed in pencil lower left by the designer Berkeley Sutcliffe.

?'Shallon Rd'
Address inscribed verso probably by the artist, but trimmed so it is only partly visible.


Height: 54.1 cm, Width: 38.0 cm

Descriptive line

Costume design by Berkeley Sutcliffe (1918-1979) for Wendy Hiller as Portia in Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice, Bristol Old Vic Company, 1946. Pencil and watercolour


Pencil; Watercolour; Paper


Drawing; Painting


Entertainment & Leisure; Designs


Theatre and Performance Collection

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