"One of Mrs. Nettleship’s greatest triumphs was my Lady Macbeth dress…The picture of me is nearly finished, and I think it is magnificent. The green and blue of the dress is splendid, and the expression as Lady Macbeth holds the crown over her head is quite wonderful . . ." wrote Ellen in her diary in 1888.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
There was recycling in them olden days
This is a magnificent portrait of the actress Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth painted by John Singer Sargeant. The photograph below is a sepia image of the actress in the same dress taken in 1888. Ellen Terry was famed for her portrayal of Shakespearean heroines and was mobbed by fans wherever she went.
The dress has just been restored at a cost of 50,000 pounds and that glittering shimmering gown was covered in irridescent green beetle wings, 1000 of them. No beetles were harmed in the making of the dress as the wings are naturally shed as part of their life cycle. The conservators collected the beetle wings that had fallen off the dress and had others donated to them.
The dress is 120 years old and the majority of the work was strengthening the fabric after the wear and tear of those years. Two years to raise the funds necessary and over 1,300 hours to repair and to bring it back to its former glory. The work was carried out by expert Zensie Tinker and her team and the dress will now be on display, along with items from Ellen's dressing room, at Smallhythe Place in Kent, a house dedicated to theatre history and stage costumes.