The dress element of the ‘Beetle Wing Dress’ for Lady Macbeth
Alice Laura Comyns-Carr, Mrs Joseph Comyns-Carr (1850-1927)
Ellen Terry wore this 'beetle wing' dress for an 1888 performance of 'Macbeth' at the Lyceum Theatre. The dress, designed by Alice Comyns Carr, is adorned with real wings shed naturally by the jewel beetle of Southeast Asia. Carr, who worked closely with Terry on her costumes, wrote that the dress should look 'like soft chain armour… [and] give the appearance of the scales of a serpent'.
The dress element of the ‘Beetle Wing Dress’ for Lady Macbeth, designed by Alice Laura Comyns-Carr and made by Adaline Cort Nettleship, 1888, cotton, silk, lace, beetle-wing cases, glass, metal.The dress is embroidered with iridescent beetle-wing cases and was worn by Ellen Terry (1847–1928) at the opening of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' at the Lyceum Theatre in London in December 1888. Terry’s performance and its powerful visual impact were captured in 1889 in a painting by the artist John Singer Sargent (Tate).
By descent to Edith Craig in 1928; the house and collections were given to the National Trust in 1939.
Makers and roles
Alice Laura Comyns-Carr, Mrs Joseph Comyns-Carr (1850-1927), designer Adaline Cort Nettleship (1856-1932), dressmaker
Sargent and Fashion , Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA, 2021 - 2022 Sargent and Fashion , Tate Britain, London, 2021 - 2022