P. Garst, Women's Fashion Sketches of the early 1810s - 1950s watercolour 

An original 1950s watercolour painting, P. Garst Women's Fashion Sketches of the early 1810s.

A series of watercolour and graphite drawings of women's fashion designs from the late 1860s and early 1870s, copied from 'The Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashion, Manufactures, etc.', December 1817. 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: 'The Repository London, Dec. 1817; 1819 London; 1820; 1822'. Inscribed verso with a list of dates and page numbers, referencing where the images were taken from in the journal. 
Foxing and age toning as shown. Crease to the upper right and left corners. Frayed and loose paper along the right and bottom edges.
19cm x 27.4cm.

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-734

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