P. Garst, Costume Sketches, Classical and Victorian - 1950s graphite drawing

An original 1950s graphite drawing, P. Garst Costume Sketches, Classical and Victorian.

Five sheets of various graphite drawings of women's costume sketches, depicting both Classical and late Victorian subjects. These were most likely executed as reference points for costume designs in keeping with the rest of this collection. 

Unsigned. Inscribed below drawings as shown: Sheet One: '1890-95 with fashion notes verso as shown.' Sheet Two: '1838-40; 1840-45, with fashion notes verso as shown.' Sheet Three: '1855'. Sheet Four: 'Cult of Terminal, Figure of Pan'. Sheet Five: 'Amazon; Diana of Versailles'. 
Foxing and age toning on all as shown. Sheet One: Staining and crease to the upper right and lower left corners. Oil stain to the lower centre. Stray pen mark to the lower right. Sheet Two: Staining and crease to the lower right and left corners as shown. Smudged graphite marks to the upper left corner near hat. Sheet Three: In good condition. Sheet Four: Crease to the upper right and lower left corners. Frayed and loose paper along lower edge. Sheet Five: Crease to the upper and lower left edges. Fray and loose paper along the lower edge. Crease to the upper right corner.
Each sheet 18.2cm x 27.5cm.

Dancing and leaping across the page, in watercolour, graphite and ink, this work forms part of a collection of copies by a P. Garst of the costume designs for the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, as well as historical fashion plates. Reaching from the early years of WWI all the way to the end of WWII, the works in this collection encompass a golden age of design, luxury and modernity. Peter Garst was an actor, dancer and costume designer in the early 1930s and 40s. One of a troupe of touring actors known as the International Ballet, which ran from 1941-53, Garst appears on the playbill for a number of theatrical productions in England in the early 1940s.

Garst clearly dedicated his life to creativity, theatre and production, and the span of his career provides a fruitful lens through which to consider the breadth of this collection. The majority of works here are finely modelled copies of costume designs taken from popular productions of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, a smaller splinter group of the original and more well-known Ballet Russes, founded by Léonide Massine and René Blum that ran from 1937-1968. Many of these copies are retrospective – they often engage with costume and set design that occurred in some places up to ten years before, while also considering contemporary stage and screen, including working directly from film stills of the 1939 Victor Fleming production of Gone with the Wind.

There are also a significant number of documentary graphite sketches of historical fashion, taken directly from Victorian ladies magazines and journals, in an attempt to trace and understand the minutiae of changes in popular apparel design.

Due to their nature as copies, it is likely this collection was meant as a type of visual reference book for Garst’s own role within the theatre. This, paired with the handwritten notes on the back of some of the historical drawings, indicates that Garst was most likely working as an amateur costume designer during this time, possibly for the International Ballet, with whom he toured in the 1940s. This collection not only can continue to serve this type of purpose today, but can also act as an aesthetic memento to the Golden age of Art Deco creative design and theatricality.

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Product code: JF-750

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