Cloak worn by Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, St James's Theatre, 1951 thumbnail 1
Cloak worn by Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, St James's Theatre, 1951 thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Theatre & Performance, Room 105

Cloak worn by Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, St James's Theatre, 1951

Theatre Costume
1951 (made)
Artist/Maker

Cloak worn by Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra in Shakespeare's play Antony and Cleopatra. Full length shaped cloak of black cotton and gold tinsel brocatelle in fish scale pattern; on the main body the fish scale motif is outlined in pale blue paint. Most of the gold tinsel is worn away. At the centre back, broadening out from the neck to hem, is a strip of pale blue and silver tinsel cloth. The long slit armholes are bordered with bands of pale blue and silver tinsel cloth, which continue below the armhole to link to a broader band which forms a facing up the front edges of the cloak.

The cape collar over the fitted shoulders is formed of overlapping layers of graduated "leaves" of orange brown cotton shaped with black dye and gold paint, the centre of each leaf having a narrow spine of gold tinsel ribbon. Around the lower third of the cloak are similar, longer orange brown cotton "leaves" shaded with black dye and gold paint, the centre of each having a narrow spine of gold tinsel ribbon; on the top two layers, each small leaf is decorated with a plastic turquoise jewel.

On each lower front facing is a large appliqué gold tissue motif, studded with blue plastic jewels; around the sleeve bands are small plastic turquoise jewels; down the front facings are larger turquoise jewels mounted on gold ribbon, alternating with blue plastic jewels.

At the front neck is a padded shape of black jersey painted and decorated with a loop of gold Russia braid and a large plastic jewel. Concealed under this is a large hook and bar fastening. The cloak is lined with shot black and gold artificial silk.
watch ASMR at the museum Our Theatre and Performance collection includes props and costumes from many iconic moments in the history of circus, dance, drama, film, opera, pantomime, popular music – and much more. Often these objects played their part in a spectacular visual and auditory experience, but when display...
watch Conserving Vivien Leigh's Cleopatra Cloak In this ASMR video, watch and listen as Senior Textile Conservator Susana Fajardo works on a cloak worn by Vivien Leigh for her performance as Cleopatra in Shakespeare's play 'Antony and Cleopatra', at the St. James's Theatre in 1951.
Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Cotton, artificial silk, gold braid, tinsel, paint and plastic jewels
Brief description
Cloak worn by Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra in Shakespeare's play Antony and Cleopatra, St James's Theatre, 11 May 1951
Physical description
Cloak worn by Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra in Shakespeare's play Antony and Cleopatra. Full length shaped cloak of black cotton and gold tinsel brocatelle in fish scale pattern; on the main body the fish scale motif is outlined in pale blue paint. Most of the gold tinsel is worn away. At the centre back, broadening out from the neck to hem, is a strip of pale blue and silver tinsel cloth. The long slit armholes are bordered with bands of pale blue and silver tinsel cloth, which continue below the armhole to link to a broader band which forms a facing up the front edges of the cloak.



The cape collar over the fitted shoulders is formed of overlapping layers of graduated "leaves" of orange brown cotton shaped with black dye and gold paint, the centre of each leaf having a narrow spine of gold tinsel ribbon. Around the lower third of the cloak are similar, longer orange brown cotton "leaves" shaded with black dye and gold paint, the centre of each having a narrow spine of gold tinsel ribbon; on the top two layers, each small leaf is decorated with a plastic turquoise jewel.



On each lower front facing is a large appliqué gold tissue motif, studded with blue plastic jewels; around the sleeve bands are small plastic turquoise jewels; down the front facings are larger turquoise jewels mounted on gold ribbon, alternating with blue plastic jewels.



At the front neck is a padded shape of black jersey painted and decorated with a loop of gold Russia braid and a large plastic jewel. Concealed under this is a large hook and bar fastening. The cloak is lined with shot black and gold artificial silk.
Dimensions
  • Cloak, collar to hem length: 154cm
  • Cloak width: 56cm
  • Packed weight of object weight: 3.9kg
Production typeUnique
Gallery label
Gallery rotation, 2022 COSTUME WORN BY VIVIEN LEIGH IN CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA 1951 Vivien Leigh played George Bernard Shaw’s Cleopatra on film in 1945 and was keen to portray her on stage. In 1951 she appeared in the West End as both Shaw’s and Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. Designer Audrey Cruddas used jewellery to help develop the character as she aged from 16 to 34 across the plays. Both productions transferred to Broadway and won Cruddas a prestigious Donaldson Award. Designed by Audrey Cruddas Cotton, artificial silk, gold braid, tinsel, paint and plastic jewels Museum no. S.942-1982 (07/03/2022)
Production
Reason For Production: Commission
Associations
Literary referenceAntony and Cleopatra
Collection
Accession number
S.942-1982

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Record createdApril 26, 2004
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