- Museum number
Design for the costume of Sole (Apollo) for the prologue of Francesco Cavalli's opera Hipermestra, formerly in an album; standing with left hand on hip and right arm extended, with separate studies of the head and head-dress, bodice and sleeve. 1658
Pen and brown ink, with pink, yellow and grey wash, over black chalk
- Production date
Height: 309 millimetres
Width: 223 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This magnificent design is one of 59 costume drawings by della Bella in the British Museum's collection. Formerly bound in an album, they have now been individually mounted. All of the drawings can, with varying degrees of certainty, be linked to three operas performed in 1657 and 1658 in Florence under the auspices of the learned Accademia degli Immobili. As such, they are among the only surviving costume designs for 17th-century Italian opera.
This particular sheet is the finished design for the costume of 'Sole' or Apollo, who appears in the Prologue of Francesco Cavalli's opera Hipermestra. It was prepared for the first opera's first performance at the Teatro della Pergola, Florence, on 18 June 1658, under the auspices of the Accademia degli Immobili. The drawing is dominated by the costume seen from the front, while a subsidiary study at upper right shows the headdress in profile, with its simulated rays and long streamers, and another study at lower right clarifies the detail of the sleeve and bodice. It seems that Stefano was consciously drawing inspiration for the masque and ballet costumes he must have seen during his recent sojourn in Paris, particularly the famous 'Sun King' costume designed by Henri de Gissey for Louis XIV in the Ballet de Nuit of 1653.
Phyllis Dearborn Massar writes:
'Rucellai describes the costume on p. 16 of his Descrizione: "In questa maravigliosa, e splendissime prospettiva Febo del Cielo, e della Terra ornamento, e chiarezza, si vedeva di Raggi vestuto, cui appunto si rassomigliavano le lame in bella foggia, che gli lampeggiavano d'ogn'intorno cingendolo, e le fila d'oro lucidissimo, che l'incoronavano con gonfia, crespa, e biondissima chioma la fronte, e tutto scintillante di Diamanti, e di Rubini si scorgeva sedere sopra una Nube da' proprii raggi indorata accomodata in guisa di trono...".'
Lit: P.D. Massar, 'Costume drawings by Stefano della Bella for the Florentine Theater', "Master Drawings", vol. 8, no. 3, 1970, pp. 261-2, pl. 10; Exhibition Catalogue: 'Italian 16th and 17th Century Drawings', Tokyo/Nagoya, 1996, No 91.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996 Feb-Apr, Tokyo, Nat Mus Western Art, Italian Drawings/BM, no. 91
1996 Apr-May, Nagoya, Aichi Pref Mus of Art, Italian Drawings/BM, no.91
2013-4, Oct-Jan, Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, 'Von der Schönheit der Linie'.
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Production of Francesco Cavalli's Hipermestra (Costume design) 18 June 1658
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- See Acquisition History to 1887-5-2-13*.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number