Portraits in Stage Costume and Civil Dress

Beyond the depiction of physical similarity, it is the aim of a portrait, to express the character, i.e. typical traits, of the portrayed person. The collection of drawn and printed portraits of the Deutsches Theatermuseum (German Theatre Museum) unites images of all professional groups employed by a theatre: actors, singers, dancers, composers, authors, choreographs musician, theatre painters, stage designers, theatre architects etc. The portraits collected show this particular group of people, while engaged in their professional activities within the context of the theatre, and therefore in costume or civil dress, during rehearsals, on stage or as a private person.

The image section chosen by the portraitist fixes the vantage point from which to view the sitter. The image is, therefore, composed to render the entire figure from the front or in profile, as a knee-length portrait, in half length or shoulder length or it depicts only the sitter’s head. It renders the sitter frequently in a pose, posture or facial expression that corresponds to a part. Beyond pose and posture, in particular the costume and accessories shown in the image contribute to the desired expression. They attest to the activity and societal rank of the sitter or the part played by him on stage.

The stage costume in the Baroque was based on the contemporary garments and fashions of the lower as well as the higher members of society in general, which could be quite diverse in accordance with local circumstances. On the one hand, there was the simple dress consisting of peasants' shirt, trousers and hat, on the other the court dress, which was characterised by its artificiality: the extravagantly coiffured wig, the occasionally sweeping shape of the dress, ornaments of exaggerated splendour and detail, which found their expression by means of the material (precious fabrics) and type of manufacture (pleats) used. The respective stage costume of each part turned it into a type by way of exaggeration and significant attributes (e.g. a garland of flowers or a spear) that further characterised the figure.

Departments in the collection of "The Portfolio of Prints and Drawings Referring to Baroque Theatre, Stage and Festival Culture" of the Deutsches Theatermuseum

>> This collection is part of Portfolio of Prints and Drawings Referring to Baroque Theatre, Stage and Festival Culture in the Deutsches Theatermuseum (German Theatre Museum).