Painting Princess Ida, finished art

The finished art, painted in acrylic paints on illustration board, for Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan’s June production of ‘Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant’. The show runs Friday June 13 and Saturday June 14 and all the details can be viewed at the Bucks G&S website.


If you don’t know the story of Princess Ida, it’s a funny one about the battle of the sexes.  And it has an actual Battle of the Sexes, in Act III. .

It begins with King Hildebrand and his loyal subjects awaiting the arrival of rival King Gama and his daughter, Princess Ida, to marry Hildebrand’s son, the Prince Hilarion. Gama, however, arrives not with his daughter but with his three dull sons, and explains in his cantankerous way that Ida will not marry Hilarion.  She has instead devoted herself to ruling a woman’s university, where she instructs her pupils on the inferiority of man, among other subjects. Hildebrand sputters that Gama and his sons will be held captive until Ida appears and consents to marry Hilarion.

The story moves to Castle Adamant where Princess Ida and her learned ladies teach their students about the evils of man. Prince Hilarion and his friends Florian and Cyril sneak into the Woman’s University disguised as women (I think you need that bit at least once in every G&S show). Their ruse is uncovered when it’s shockingly observed that two of them are tenors and one a baritone. Ida promptly has the three men arrested, then King Hildebrand shows up to give Ida 24 hours before he demolishes Castle Adamant, if she does not marry Hilarion.

The women bring out the battle-axes to defend the castle but Hilarion and his friends easily win; Princess Ida yields to her prince, and with joy abiding, the opera concludes.

Painting Princess Ida, part 4

Adding more detail to Castle Adamant, the fortress in which Princess Ida holes up to keep out the men in her life.



To see the preliminary drawings for this show poster art, scroll back through these blog posts.  The musical ‘Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant’ is by Gilbert & Sullivan and will be performed June 13 and 14 in Doylestown by the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society – see their website for more details.

Painting Princess Ida, part 3

I’m starting to paint in some of the big components now – got the primary colors picked out.  Just last night I took a few photos of the actress playing Ida, so I’ll be able to get some bit of a likeness when I’m down to the details.



‘Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant’ will be performed by the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society on June 13 at 8 PM and June 14 at 2 and 8 PM, at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown.  For more info, see the Bucks G&S website.

Painting Princess Ida, part 2

This is a tightened-up version of my initial pencil sketch for Gilbert & Sullivan’s Princess Ida in a previous post. Like many G&S operettas, Ida has a lot of battle-of-the sexes humor – as a matter of fact, there’s literally a battle of the sexes in Act 2, which is why I’m picturing Ida with her cuirass and longsword. Next step is to transfer it to the illustration board and work up a color sketch, which I’ll be posting very soon.partialida2

Painting Princess Ida, part 1

I’m starting the art for a new poster for the Bucks County GIlbert & Sullivan Society (you can see last year’s, ‘Patience, or Bunthorne’s Bride’ starting here), so I will be posting the stages of the artwork as it progresses.

This year’s Gilbert & Sullivan comic operetta is ‘Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant,’ and concerns a princess who founds a women’s university and teaches that women are superior to men and should rule in their stead – not a far cry from the opinion of some today, nor far from the aspirations of some Victorian women when the show opened in 1884.  Ida’s fiance since childhood, Prince Hilarion, would convince her to quit her bastion and marry him.  He and his friends, Cyril and Florian, scale the battlements and pursue Ida and other charming students they meet.  The three men, in keeping with some unwritten rule of British comedy, dress as women to infiltrate the castle.

My rough sketch for the image shows Ida in her battle gear – for battle is indeed pitched in the show – in front of Castle Adamant. I’ve indicated the three suitors in various poses scrambling over and around walls to catch their maids.  I’ll post more steps to the final art as I complete them.



The gents’ poses, scaling the castle:partialidask2