London’s Chiswick Auctions to offer Sally Jacobs costume designs created for important British stage productions, May 24

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Featured: Jacobs’ mixed-media designs for Royal Shakespeare Co., English National Opera, and other productions of the 1960-‘80s

LONDON – An archive containing hundreds of stage costume designs by Sally Jacobs (1932-2020) are featured in Chiswick Auctions’ Books and Works on Paper sale slated for May 24. One of the lots (Lot 161), which includes mixed-media designs for important stage Royal Shakespeare Company productions from the 1960s, is expected to sell for £18,000-£22,000 ($22,465-$27,460).

Sally Jacobs (1932-2020), original 1985 design for The Royal Opera Company’s ‘Othello’ from a group lot of 297 costume designs for stage productions. Estimate £16,000-£18,000 ($19,965-$22,460)
Sally Jacobs (1932-2020), original 1985 design for The Royal Opera Company’s ‘Othello’ from a group lot of 297 costume designs for stage productions. Estimate £16,000-£18,000 ($19,965-$22,460)

Jacobs worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) from 1962-65 before moving to Los Angeles to produce designs for the Mark Taper Forum until 1982. Jacobs’ designs entered in the auction include those for the 26 costumes for the RSC’s production of Love’s Labours Lost in 1964 plus 15 designs for company’s The Screens, directed the same year by Peter Brook. The 17 designs for the RSC’s Don Gil of the Green Breeches, by Tirso de Molina, include those for renowned actors Diana Rigg and Glenda Jackson.

Jacobs’ career was innovative, wide-ranging and influential. Among the later designs in the collection (almost all are signed and dated) are those created for productions at the English National Opera and Royal Opera in the 1980s and ’90s.

At Covent Garden in London, Jacobs followed her triumph on Turandot with another Serban production, Fidelio in 1986. She created the set as a vast dungeon which finally breaks open as Leonora rescues Florestan and sunlight floods the stage. All 25 stage designs for the production are part of the archive.

In a 1988 commission for the English National Opera she also created designs for the critically acclaimed Eugene Onegin, directed by Graham Vick. Fifty-one designs from that production are featured in the May 24 auction, as are the 31 designs for David Freeman’s 1996 version of Zimmermann’s modern classic Die Soldaten.

Clive Moss, specialist at Chiswick Auctions, said Jacobs’ designs compare favorably to those held by such institutions as the Harvard Theatre Collection and Victoria & Albert Museum. “The artworks in the present collection offer an insight into the costume design process behind landmark productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and English National Opera. In Jacobs’ signature style, they colorfully depict an array of British acting royalty.”

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