Costume design for 'America' 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 silver and grey costume design is by the prolific Victorian stage designer, Attilio Comelli. It was for the 1908 Drury Lane pantomime Dick Whittington. It told the familiar story of Dick Whittington, played by Queenie Leighton, overcoming all obstacles to marry Alice Fitzwarren, played by Marie Wilson, and become the Lord Mayor of London. The story, however, was almost incidental to the extravagant scenes and the costumes. There were fourteen different sets. Several of them were simply backdrops to processions of exotically dressed characters. 'America' was part of one of these, the finale of Act 1. She was probably designed to be carried on in her throne. Comelli researched the sources of his designs carefully. His character representing America sits on a throne that has a walrus head for its arm. She carries a spear, has the feather headdress of the American Indians, and a polar bear skin - the polar bear and the walrus being found in the northern states of America.