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copyright V&A

Hon (later Sir) George Frederick Stanley

as "Mars, Louis XIVth period"

Hon. George Frederick Stanley, later Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir George Stanley, was a brother of the Earl of Derby. At the time of the Ball he was single and a soldier. His later career in government would culminate with his appointment as Governor of Madras in 1929. He made great economies in the provincial budget and thereby directed funds to large capital schemes such as the Stanley Reservoir (in Tamil Nadu, India) and the enhancement of Cochin harbour.

His beautifully constructed costume as the Roman god Mars is a double anachronism as he is clothed in a Louis XIV-style interpretation of ancient Greek costume. The introduction of the ballet de cour by Catherine de' Medici in 1581 gave rise to a fashion for allegorical dance wherein the godlike qualities of kingship were emphasised through allegories and mythical allusions. In England, costumes, settings and decorations for these masques were designed by Inigo Jones at the courts of Kings James I and Charles I.

The costume is an accurate reconstruction and it can be hypothesised that it was created by one of the leading London theatrical costumiers. Descriptions which appeared in the press at the time mention that with the skirt and sleeves are of white leather with crimson tabs, scalloped and embroidered with gold. The mantle is of crimson silk and the large gold Grecian helmet is adorned with a lion's head.



Negative number: V&A L1574, 09-10-1897