Costume design for 'Asia' for the 1908 Drury Lane pantomime Dick Whittington
Watercolour and pencil on card
Museum no. 89/1202
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This delicately coloured pink and silver costume design by the prolific Victorian stage designer, Attilio Comelli, was for the Drury Lane pantomime Dick Whittington, by J. Hickory Wood and Arthur Collins. It was for one of the many extravagant costumes that were so popular in the splendid pantomimes at Drury Lane theatre in the late 19th and early 20th century. This one told the familiar story of Dick Whittington overcoming all obstacles to marry Alice Fitzwarren and become the Lord Mayor of London. The familiar story of Dick Whittington was almost incidental to the extravagant scenes and the costumes. 'Asia' appeared in 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. She may have been carried on in her throne. Comelli researched the sources of his designs carefully. His character representing Asia holds a lotus flower in each hand and has the suggestion of three other arms behind her right arm, in the manner of some Indian deities.