Hon (later Sir) George Frederick Stanley (1872-1938),
"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 in the Royal Horse Artillery.

copyright V&A. Lady Ashburton 1897
Stanley's costume as depicted by The Sketch's artist in its issue a week after the Ball.

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 was able to apply funds to large capital schemes such as the Stanley Reservoir (in Tamil Nadu, India) and the enhancement of Cochin harbour. Upon his death, the obituary writer for The Times speaking of his life devoted to public service, stated that he “was a born leader of men and a typical example of those great Englishmen who have, quietly and unostentatiously, done so much for the good of the Empire and its people.”

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 along with its abdominal cuirass and leather lambrequins. 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 was most probably created and supplied 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.

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copyright V&A. Lady Ashburton 1897V&A Lafayette Archive
Negative number: L1574

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All text copyright © Russell Harris 2011