Drama: Its Costume & Decor

Drama: Its Costume & Decor

Drama: Its Costume & Decor

Drama: Its Costume & Decor

Excerpt

When in the summer of 1922, I joined the staff of the Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the International Theatre Exhibition, transferred to South Kensington from Amsterdam, was just drawing to a close. Some of the exhibits, including two concrete models by Gordon Craig, were purchased by the Museum authorities in order to form the nucleus of a theatre collection. During the next decade considerable additions were made, and these, together with objects already in the Department, now form one of the most important collections of theatrical material in the world. The enormous Gabrielle Enthoven collection of London playbills was added in the middle twenties; the Library already possessed not only a very large number of books on the theatre, but the important Piot Collection of early works on pageants and royal entrées. During the Second World War the Oskar Fischel collection of photographs was purchased.

All this material became the subject of my study whenever time could be spared from other duties, and the book which has finally taken shape is the result of a quarter of a century's enthusiasm. It is an attempt to present a coherent picture of the whole subject, but I do not pretend to be a specialist in anything but quite minor parts of the story. My object has been to offer a clue through the labyrinth, to erect signposts pointing to the work of such scholars as Dr. Bieber, Professor Allardyce Nicoll, Mr. Kernodle, M. Carlos Fischer, Dr. Joseph Gregor and others. It is hoped that the select bibliographies will be useful here. The most detailed treatment is reserved for the subjects of my own special research -- e.g, the Intermezzi drawings of Buontalente and those of Juvarra and Sir James Thornhill. The last named are reproduced, so far as I am aware, for the first time. That so many of the illustrations are drawn from the Victoria and Albert Museum is a deliberate attempt to draw the attention of students, in Britain and elsewhere, to the riches of the national collection.

It only remains for me to thank those who have been so generous in their assistance: to the authorities of the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Louvre, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Musée de l'Opéra, the Kunstbistorisches Museum, Vienna, the Drottningholme Museum, Sweden, the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement, and to all the living artists who have allowed their works to be reproduced. My grateful thanks are due to Miss Elizabeth Glass for an expert reading of the complicated proofs.

JAMES LAVER 1951 . . .

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