Costume design for the Angel of Wealth for the 1908 Drury Lane pantomime Dick Whittington
Watercolour and pencil on card
Museum no. 89/1202
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This gold and purple costume design is by the prolific Victorian stage designer, Attilio Comelli. It was for the 1908 Drury Lane pantomime Dick Whittington, written by J. Hickory Wood and Arthur Collins. Wood and Collins told the familiar story of Dick Whittington overcoming all obstacles to marry Alice Fitzwarren and become the Lord Mayor of London. Four leading set designers of the day provided the fourteen different sets, several of them being backdrops to processions of exotically dressed characters. The Angel of Wealth, played by Joan Burton, appeared at the finale of Act 1 - the Harbour of Gold - in which the Heralds of Success, the Wonders of the World, and a Vision of Fame were all presented. Comelli researched the sources of his designs carefully. With her winged helmet, like the Angel of Enterprise, the Angel of Wealth is a female version of the Classical figure Hermes, or Mercury - the messenger of the gods. She was one of the Heralds of Success, bringing wealth to Dick, represented by the golden cornucopia (or horn of plenty) that she carries, overflowing with gold coins.