The New Jacobean Order

Inigo Jones and Costumes of the Masques

[Click on image to enlarge] Inigo Jones supplied elaborate costumes for most of the court masques written by Ben Jonson; The Masque of Blackness (1605) marked the first collaboration between the two. Queen Anne and her ladies danced the parts of the Daughters of Niger. Not surprisingly, the "outlandish" costumes were deemed by some "too light and courtesan-like for such great ones" — and the use of blackface was pronounced "a very loathsome sight." Jonson ascribed to the queen the basic conception of making the ladies "blackamoors."

Jones's sketches for the costumes of lady masquers in the Caroline period, and his costumes for King Charles and Queen Henrietta Maria for the masque Salmacida Spolia, give some indication of what William Prynne was complaining about in his Histrio-Mastix, when he so violently objected to kings and queens, and women generally, performing in masques and joining in mixed dances. Bare-breasted styles for unmarried women were common, as was the use of increasingly elaborate and expensive costumes, many changes of stage settings, and complicated machines to bring the gods down from heaven or up from below.

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