Lady Macbeth beetle wing dress could set hearts fluttering at auction

A green beetle wing dress worn by one of the 19th century's leading actresses has gone on display following a £110,000 restoration, making theatrical collectors and investors take notice.

Ellen Terry caused a sensation when she wore the dress, complete with 1,000 beetle wings, as Lady Macbeth in a six month run during 1888.

Oscar Wilde remembered Terry arriving in a taxi in full costume: "The street that on a wet and dreary morning has vouchsafed the vision of Lady Macbeth in full regalia magnificently seated in a four-wheeler can never again be as other streets."

Terry was known for her striking features, beautiful voice and her busy love life.

"Is not this a lovely robe? It is so easy, and one does not have to wear corsets," said the actress of her attire.

The dress was reused for many future productions on both sides of the Atlantic and was in a state of extreme disrepair upon the commencement of restoration in 2006, according to the Guardian.

The dress has been restored to its original condition with the help of donations to the National Trust and more than 700 hours of labour.

Terry without the beetle wings

At auction the garment would likely achieve far higher than the figures seen at the Royal Shakespeare Company's recent costume clear out in Stratford-upon-Avon. There the top selling piece was a green embroidered doublet and breeches worn by David Tennant in the 2008 production of Love's Labour's Lost, which made £450.

The dress is on display at Terry's last home, Smallhythe Place in Kent.


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