Costume and set designs, theatre productions

Scope and Content

Costume and set designs, sketches, and set model pieces by Oliver Messel for ballet, opera and theatre productions in Great Britain and the United States from 1932 to 1973, covering his work for C. B. Cochran, Covent Garden Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and H. M. Tennent Productions Ltd., amongst others. The designs are mixed media on paper: charcoal, pencil, gouache, watercolour, gold and silver paint. Some designs are mounted on board or may have been dismounted; these boards often possess annotations, sketches and labels. Some costume designs have fabric samples attached to the design or the board. Set designs are on paper and board; many are cut-out pieces of paper and card and scaled drawings on squared tracing paper which are sometimes only a small fragment of tracing paper. The set model pieces are made from a range of material including acetate, cardboard, paper, Plaster of Paris, wire, wood and pipe cleaners, and can be two dimensional pieces on paper or card, three dimensional or a combination of two and three dimensional elements. The series also includes his production-specific costume and set design notes, costume plots, colour palettes (sheets of colour samples on paper), fabric samples, portrait sketches, set plans and set story boards.


This sub-fonds has been divided into 34 series by name of production in alphabetical order (NB series number THM/321/20 is not used).

Within each series, items are arranged by format (e.g. designs, model pieces, photographs) and then into logical groupings e.g. size and type (for example, designs divided into costume and set designs, as appropriate).