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About this collection

In 1958, Léda Plauché donated a large collection of Mardi Gras costume and float designs and a smaller collection of photographs to the Louisiana Department (now Division) of New Orleans Public Library. For many years, it was believed that the all of the designs were Mrs. Plauché's work, but it has since become clear that although many were done by Léda Plauché herself, a large number were the work of an earlier designer, Bror Anders Wikstrom. A smaller group of drawings cannot be positively identified as the work of either Plauché or Wikstrom. The Wikstrom designs and the unidentified designs were apparently in Mrs. Plauché's possession and were donated by her along with her own drawings.

 

Léda Hincks Plauché (Mrs. Henry Plauché) was born in New Orleans in 1886. She designed her first Carnival ball for the Krewe of Nereus in 1916 and, over the next forty years, she included the krewes of Rex, Proteus, Comus, and Momus among her clients. Mrs. Plauché was also the proprietor of the Green Orchid gift shop in the French Quarter. She died in New Orleans in 1980.

 

A native of Sweden, Bror Anders Wikstrom ran away to sea at a young age and spent a dozen years as a sailor. When he returned from his travels, he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm and later in Paris before setting out to make his fortune in America. In 1883 Wikstrom came to New Orleans. His entrée to the world of Carnival came when he began to work as assistant to Rex's float and costume designer Charles Briton. When Briton died, Wikstrom succeeded him and continued to design for Rex, and later for Proteus, until his death in 1909.

 

The collection consists of original costume designs for Carnival parades and balls, photographs of original float designs, and original designs for Carnival floats.

 

Costume Designs:

 

Original costume designs, 391 drawings total, for Carnival parades and balls. 285 of the designs were executed by Léda Plauché or by unidentified artists; 106 of the designs were executed by Bror Anders Wikstrom.

 

The designs range in size from approximately 7 ½" x 9 ½" to 15" x 20 ½" on heavy drawing paper, in watercolor, ink, and pencil. Several of the drawings have been matted; several of the Plauche designs were cut out "paper doll fashion."

 

The costume designs are arranged by numbers assigned by the arranger.  There are two series: designs by Plauché and designs by Wikstrom. Several dozen of the designs attributed to Plauche are probably not her work but drawings in her possession actually executed by unidentified Carnival artists. Nine oversized drawings were not scanned and are not listed in the inventory.

 

The krewes for which the costume designs were created are, for the most part, unidentified. Further research will be necessary in order to determine the drawings' dates and the Carnival krewes which commissioned them and to identify positively the creators of some of the drawings currently attributed to Plauché.

 

Photographs:

 

Eleven small bound notebooks containing 3 ¼ x 5 ½" black and white photographs of Plauché's float designs for Rex parades in the years 1935, 1936, 1938-1941, 1947-1949, 1950, 1953. (A single image -- King's float, 1948 --was hand colored.)

 

The photograph albums are arranged chronologically and photographs are numbered within each year. The photographs have been scanned at 1200 dpi TIFFs, which are being retained as archival masters. The TIFFs were edited to produce the 900 pixel JPEGs and the 200 pixel JPEG thumbnails displayed in the inventory.

 

Float Designs:

 

This Collection has not been digitized

 

Three sets of original Wikstrom float designs for Proteus parades in 1906, 1907, and 1909; three sets of original Plauché float designs for Rex parades in 1935, 1937, and 1946. The designs range in size from approximately 15" x 20" to 26" x 18" on heavy drawing paper, in watercolor, ink, and pencil. A number of the Wikstrom designs are glued to mats.

 

The float designs are arranged in separate sets for each parade, and, within each set, by float number

 

Tulane University, the Louisiana State Museum, and The Historic New Orleans Collection also house designs by Bror Anders Wikstrom.

 
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