Edward Burra: Stage and Cabaret

21 January - 7 March 2003

Edward Burra: Stage and Cabaret presents works by one of the greatest Modern British draftsmen and water colourists of the twentieth century.

The exhibition focuses on some of Burra's favourite subjects: the cabaret, music-hall and stage. It includes not only drawings made in England but also works made on the artist's extensive world travels.

The exhibition includes a series of little known stage and costume designs for Bizet's Carmen, which Burra made for the very first production of the Covent Garden Opera Company (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) staged in January 1947. This was one of Burra's major commissions for the stage and his studies show the seriousness with which he took it, combining watercolour and pencil with swatches of material. However, the translation of Burra's elaborate watercolours to the stage shocked him when he saw a preview. As he wrote in his own inimitable style in a letter of 25 December 1946:

" Well dearie how are you with the pantomimes. I saw act 1 of Carmen the set I mean. from the 10th row youd never notice any of the little nuances and from anyway further just a lovely far away dream. and the Spanish shawls!"

Also included are detailed drawings in black ink, depicting Hollywood stars of stage and screen, which were published in the Humbert Wolfes's ABC of Theatre (1932).