Thursday, August 04, 2011

Beautiful Beetles, Really!

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth
by John Singer Sargent, 1889
Thanks to Collection Tate
In specific, I'm talking about the Jewel Beetle and only their wings are involved - meaning it's a little less gross.  Add into the mix two of my favorite things, fashion and John Singer Sargent, which makes the ick-factor almost disappear.


Anyway, where do these three things meet up and tickle my fancy side?

Lady Macbeth.

No, I'm not a Shakespeare fanatic, but maybe you've seen the painting of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth by John Singer Sargent.  It is in Collection Tate and currently hangs in the Tate Britain, London.  And, as for Ellen Terry, she was a famous Victorian actress whose home, Smallhythe Place, is run by the National Trust and they will be showing the actual recently conserved Beetle-Wing dress along with more Terry theatre costume collection.

Original conserved beetle-jewel dress
thanks to The History Blog
 And that is what I want to see - the 120 year old dress, created specifically for Terry's role of Lady Macbeth played at the Lyceum Theatre, took 5 years, 1300 hours and 1000 real jewel-beetle wings to put back together.  Put back together, conserve, fix, none of that offers a hint of how difficult and unique this work actually was to do.  In the National Trust Magazine there's a small column where Paul Meredith, the House Manager at Smallhythe, says:

"many of the original beetle wings had fallen off and these were re-attached, along with others that had been donated, by using small pieces of Japanese tissue and a mixture of wheat starch paste."
Wow, what a detailed work of art, which was originally meant to be worn for the length of a play, multiple nights.

Must See!

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