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Percy Anderson

(1851-1928), Artist

Artist of 2 portraits
Percy Anderson was a stage designer and painter, best known for his work for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree's company at His Majesty's Theatre and Edwardian musical comedies.

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Charles Hind

31 March 2020, 19:56

Portraits by Anderson are also in the British Museum and the Louvre.

Beginning with The Yeomen of the Guard (1888), Anderson designed the costumes for all the original productions of the Savoy Operas. He continued to design costumes for D'Oyly Carte revivals in the early 20th century, including Trial by Jury, H.M.S Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, Patience, Iolanthe, Princess Ida, Ruddigore, The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers.

Among Anderson's other successes were Trelawney of the Wells (1898), Merrie England (1902), the hit British premiėre of The Merry Widow in 1907, Kismet (1911) and Chu Chin Chow (1916). Anderson so impressed the famous Croatian soprano Milka Ternina (1863-1941) that in 1900 she decided that he would design all her costumes, including those for such roles as the London and New York premières of Puccini’s Tosca. Anderson’s costumes for Ternina are now in the Zagreb City Museum and four of them, including the two Tosca costumes and those for two of the several Wagner roles for which she was famous, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser and Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, were exhibited at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 2007.
Anderson had private means, and for a time he shared rooms with Morton Fullman, the bisexual American journalist who was the great love of Edith Wharton. He was part of a circle of rich, artistic homosexual men, who included Fullman’s lover, the writer and aesthete Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, and he had a passionate affair with the young novelist Hugh Walpole. The Times, in its obituary notice, said of Anderson that he escaped from the pedantry of his predecessors and paved the way in a most interesting manner for Bakst, Claud Lovat Fraser and Gordon Craig.
Anderson contributed the illustrations to an interesting little book called Costume: Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical, compiled by Mrs. Eliza Davis Aria and published by the Macmillan Company in New York in 1907.

Michael Aaron Green

15 January 2017, 03:11

Although best known as a costume designer, Percy Anderson was also a prolific portrait painter. A March 1906 article in The Lady's Realm, entitled The Art of Percy Anderson, listed some of his well-known subjects and included photographs of quite a few. A proper biography of Anderson is long overdue.

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