J. Howell Russell Costume Drawings

Dates: 1893
Size: .5 linear feet
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: T00082
Provenance: Purchase, 1987
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: J. Howell Russell Costume Drawings, [Accession #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Sarah Zimmerman, March 2018

Biographical Note

Howell Russell grew up in Workington, Cumberland, England. As a young man, he worked in an ironworks. An injury sent him to the south of France to rest and recuperate, and at that time he became interested in drawing. He attended art school at Clifton, near Bristol, England.

According in an 1896 interview, Russell worked as an illustrator at the Bristol Observer until he got his break in costume design, first at the Prince's Theater in Bristol, and then at the Alhambra music hall in London in 1880. He remained associated with the Alhambra for at least the next 16 years designing over 19 productions there including, Chicago, a ballet that was a celebration of the World's Columbian Exposition.

Russell created costume designs for several shows at various theaters in Chicago including, Ali Baba (1892), Sinbad (1893) and Aladdin, Jr. (1894) at the Chicago Opera House, and The Black Crook (1893) at McVicker’s.

Scope and Content

The collection includes sixteen watercolor costume paintings by designer J. Howell Russell. Each drawing depicts a woman dressed to represent a particular country for during a Parade of Nations ballet in productions Sinbad at the Chicago Opera House, and Chicago at the Alhambra music hall in London.

The drawings indicate they are for “Lady,” “Officer” or “Follower” positions in the ballets. Drawings for the Alhambra production are marked, and often signed by the artist.

Arrangement/Series Description

The drawings are arranged by production, then alphabetically by nation.

Subject Headings

  • Russell, Howell -- Archives.
  • Chicago Opera House (Chicago Ill: Washington Ave. and Clark St.)
  • Royal Alhambra Theatre (London, England)
  • Costume Designs Drawings.
  • Watercolors.

Container List

Chicago at the Alhambra (London), 1893 March

87.3.7 Austria, Lady costume drawing, signed “Howell Russell ’93,” 1893
87.3.9 Austria, Officer costume drawing, signed “Howell Russell ’93,” 1893
87.3.11 [Germany], costume drawing, circa 1893
87.3.10 Ireland, costume drawing, signed “H. Russell ’93,” 1893
87.3.8 Russia, Lady costume drawing, signed “Howell Russell ’93,” 1893
87.3.16 Turkey, Lady costume drawing, signed “Howell Russell ’93,” 1893

Sinbad at the Chicago Opera House, 1893 October-November

87.3.14 Africa, Officer costume drawing, [1893]
87.3.15 Africa, Follower costume drawing, [1893]
87.3.2 America, Follower costume drawing, [1893]
87.3..4 Germany, Officer costume drawing, [1893]
87.3.6 Germany, Follower costume drawing, [1893]
87.3.5 India, Officer costume drawing, [1893]
87.3.13 [India], costume drawing, [1893]
87.3.1 Ireland, Officer costume drawing, [1893]
87.3.3 Ireland, Follower costume drawing, [1893]
87.3.12 Unidentified [Scotland?], [Follower] costume drawing, [1893]
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