Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Madame de Saint-Huberty in the Role of Dido by Anne Vallayer-Coster, 1785 France, National Museum of Women in the Arts
Portia by Sir John Everett Millais, 1886 England, the Met Museum
Millais is best known as one of the artists who founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. As a result of what have been called his “concessions to the sweetness of Victorian taste,” he was made as associate of the Royal Academy in 1853. By the time he painted “Portia,” there was hardly a trace of the Pre-Raphaelite style in his work. Instead, he worked in an academic-realist manner and concentrated on the kinds of saccharine subjects that are now synonymous with Victorian painting.
This picture was long incorrectly identified as a portrait of the actress Ellen Terry (1847–1928) in one of her most famous roles, Portia in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” In fact, it shows actress Kate Dolan dressed in the costume that Miss Terry wore in Act IV of the play. When the picture was exhibited at McLean’s Gallery, London, in 1886, Shylock’s line describing Portia was quoted in the catalogue: “A Daniel come to judgement! Yea, a Daniel!”
X-rays and pentimenti indicate that “Portia” is painted over a study of the same figure in Greek costume. An early photograph documenting the original image was published in 1899.
Costume designed by Norman Wilkinson, worn by “Helena” (Lilliah McCarthy) in Harley Granville Barker’s 1914 production ofA Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1914 UK, the V&A Museum
Costume design for the Ballet Russes production of Cléopâtre, by Sonia Delaunay, 1918, LACMA
Anna Pavlova in costume for her Russian dance, 1910’s-20’s
Her headdress is an elaborate version of what is known as a kokoshnik.
Theatre cape, ca 1920
Costume design for the character Kupavina from Wolves and Sheep, designed by Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev, 1915
Theatre costumes, 1838, Le Follet
Opera costume, 1949