An original 1902 watercolour painting, Wilhelm (William Charles Pitcher) Theatre Costume Design for 'The Toreador' 1902: Special Espadas.
A fabulous original costume design by important theatrical costume designer William Charles Pitcher (1858-1925), also known as 'Wilhelm'. This painting shows the costume designed for special espadas in the theatre production of 'The Toreador' at the Gaiety Theatre, 1902.
Much of Wilhelm’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 and gouache on original board.
Provenance: The Theatrebarn, Evesham.
Inscribed verso: 'The Toreador'.
Age toning and foxing as shown. The corners of the board are somewhat worn, with losses to the upper two corners and a small amount of damage to the lower right. Please see photos for detail.
27.6cm x 19.7cm.
This painting forms part of a collection of original theatrical costume designs that we have for sale by influential designers Percy Anderson, Attilio Comelli and Wilhelm. 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.
William Charles Pitcher was one of the most prolific stage designers of his day, working on nearly 200 productions. For a period of twenty years at the turn of the century he worked in all but name as artistic director of ballet at the Empire Theatre, London - writing and choreographing ahead of similar concepts by the great choreographer Michael Forkine at the Diaghilev ballet.
Wilhelm benefitted from a highly developed sense of the overall stage picture, so that all elements of costume, stage set and choreography would be effective and harmonious. He had great taste and strong attention to detail. He always used the finest materials and had a great understanding of texture. He like to embellish his designs with silver and gold, brocades, beads, and jewels.
The Times newspaper wrote that ‘Wilhelm excelled especially in rendering the spirit and detail of historical periods, but he had also an amusing skill in turning modern costumes to his fantastic purposes.... to his imaginative gifts he added remarkable precision and firmness in execution and great ingenuity in the treatment of colour.’ He was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1920.
Much of Wilhlem’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, National Gallery of Australia, and The McNay Art Museum, amongst others.
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Product code: JN-248