Percy Anderson

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For the U.S. federal judge, see Percy Anderson (judge).
Anderson design for The Gondoliers, 1917

Percy Anderson (1851 – 30 October 1928) was an English 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.

Life and career[edit]

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 twentieth century, including for Trial by Jury, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, Patience, Iolanthe, Princess Ida, Ruddigore, The Yeomen of the Guard, and The Gondoliers. For Herbert Beerbohm Tree at His Majesty's Theatre, Anderson designed Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Richard II, King John, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, and two plays by Stephen Phillips, Herod and Ulysses.[1]

Among Anderson's other successes were Kismet (1911) and Chu Chin Chow (1916) for Oscar Asche, Trelawny of the 'Wells' by Pinero, Véronique (1904), Merrie England (1902) and Fallen Fairies (1909) at the Savoy, and productions of musical comedies for George Edwardes. He designed the costumes for Henry James’s ill-fated theatrical effort, Guy Domville; The Times was not impressed by either the play or the costumes.[2] He designed the costumes for the hit musical San Toy in 1899, The Duchess of Dantzic in 1903, and the hit British premiere of The Merry Widow in 1907 and for many successful musicals.[3] The Royal Opera House also commissioned Anderson to design costumes in 1900.[4] Anderson's designs were also used in a number of Broadway productions.[5]

Described as "a dainty, naughty, rococo man", Anderson had private means, and for a time roomed with Morton Fullerton, who praised his "adorable Chesterfieldian charm". He was part of a circle of rich, artistic homosexual men, who included Lord Ronald Gower, the courtier Alec Yorke and Hamilton Aïdé.[6] In the 1910s, Anderson was closely associated with the young novelist Hugh Walpole.[7]

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.[1] As a painter, Anderson achieved a modest success, and his portraits hang in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Louvre, and the British Museum.[8] He illustrated the 1907 book, Costume: Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical.[9]

Anderson died in King's College Hospital, London, in 1928, aged 76 or 77.[1]


Anderson's costume for King Gama in Princess Ida, 1921
  1. ^ a b c The Times, 31 October 1928, p. 16
  2. ^ The Times, 7 January 1895, p. 13
  3. ^ Article on Lily Elsie, mentioning several musicals with costumes designed by Anderson
  4. ^ Biography of Milka Ternina describing Anderson costumes designed for her at the Wayback Machine (archived December 3, 2007)
  5. ^ Percy Anderson at the IBDB database
  6. ^ Mainwaring, pp. 43 and 78
  7. ^ Hart-Davis, p. 79
  8. ^ Portrait of Winifred Dickinson by Anderson
  9. ^ Costume: Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical, compiled by Mrs. Eliza Davis Aria. (1907) New York: The Macmillan Company.


  • Hart-Davis, Rupert. Hugh Walpole (1997) Sutton Publishing, Stroud (orig Macmillan, London, 1952); ISBN 0-7509-1491-2
  • Mainwaring, Marion. Mysteries of Paris: the Quest for Morton Fullerton, University of New England Press, 2001
  • Rollins, Cyril and R. John Witts. The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Gilbert and Sullivan Operas (1961) London: Michael Joseph Ltd.

External links[edit]