Ellen Terry's beetlewing gown back in limelight after £110,000 restoration





After five years and more than 700 hours of delicate restoration work, a green gown shimmering with the iridescent wings of 1,000 beetles, which caused a sensation when Ellen Terry wore it as Lady Macbeth in 1888, is going on display again.

The dress, transforming the beautiful red-haired actor into a cross between a jewelled serpent and a medieval knight, was the talk of the town after the first night. John Singer Sargent painted Terry wearing it, and the artist's neighbour, Oscar Wilde, recalled the impact of Lady Macbeth arriving in a taxi: "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."

Another overawed male visitor to her dressing room recorded: "There before me was Lady Macbeth in the glorious robe of green beetle wings … Her face was wreathed in smiles, and almost the first words she said were 'Is not this a lovely robe? It is so easy, and one does not have to wear corsets.'"...

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