Attilio Comelli, Original Costume Design for 'Carmen' 1903: Spanish Smuggler

An original 1903 watercolour painting, Attilio Comelli Theatre Costume Design for 'Carmen' Opera: Spanish Smuggler.

A fabulous original costume design by important theatrical costume designer Attilio Comelli (1858-1925). This painting shows the costume designed for Mr Collins in the part of a smuggler in the production of the opera ‘Carmen’ at the Royal Opera House, London, 1903.

Much of Attilio Comelli’s original design work is held in public collections, in the UK and internationally, and does not often come on to the open market.

In watercolour, graphite and silver paint on watercolour board.

Provenance: The Theatrebarn, Evesham

In good condition for its age. The corners of the board are somewhat worn. The picture may have other minor imperfections, such as slight marks, toning or foxing, commensurate with age. Please see photos for detail.
31.1cm x 23cm.

This painting forms part of a collection of original theatrical costume designs that we have for sale by influential designers Percy Anderson and Attilio Comelli. Designs such as these are valuable artefacts of the Edwardian era and the history of stage production. Edwardian musical comedy was immensely popular - and captured the optimism, energy and good humour of the new century as well as providing comfort during the First World War. Produced in an age before mass photography, these colour designs form the only remaining record of the costumes which made up these productions.

Attilio Comelli (born Attilio Giuseppe de Comelli von Stuckenfeld) was an Italian designer of wealthy ancestry who came to London in the late 19th century. In the 1890s he was appointed house designer to the Royal Opera House and was responsible for providing the costumes for the first London performances of many operas. He quickly established himself as one of the most prolific designers for the London stage and worked as Artist in Chief at both the Alhambra and Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and also produced designs for some of the Savoy operas.

Comelli’s working process involved thoroughly researching the period of a play to inform his design choices, writing: ‘I first spend some weeks in studying, at the British and South Kensington Museum, every available authority on the period, and I frequently send my brother to Paris and Berlin, if there is a chance of getting information there that is not available in London’. The brother he refers to is likely Emilio Andrea Comelli (1862-1929), also a costume maker or designer active in London during the early 20th century.

Much of Comelli’s work is held in public collections internationally and does not often come on to the open market. His designs are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the Performing Arts Collection at the Arts Centre in Melbourne.

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Product code: JM-167

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