Costume designs for Dick Whittington

Costume designs for Dick Whittington

Costume design for 'The Angel of Enterprise' for the 1908 Drury Lane pantomime Dick Whittington
Attilio Comell
Watercolour and pencil on card
Museum no. 89/1202
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This costume design by the prolific Victorian stage designer, Attilio Comelli, was for the 1908 Drury Lane pantomime Dick Whittington. The splendid pantomimes at Drury Lane theatre in the late 19th and early 20th century were famed for their extravagant costumes and sets. The familiar story of Dick Whittington was almost incidental to the scenery and the costumes. Four leading set designers of the day provided the fourteen different sets, some of which were simply backdrops to processions of exotically dressed characters. The Angel of Enterprise 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 his designs carefully. The Angel of Enterprise, one of the Heralds of Success, is a female version of the Classical figure Hermes, or Mercury - the messenger of the gods. She wears his winged helmet and sandals, and carries his wand or caduceus, a symbol of messengers and business. The anchor is there to show that Dick's fortune will come from the sea.