Oliver Messel was one of the leading British stage designers of his day, winning international acclaim and becoming a highly-sought after scenery and costume designer for both stage and screen. Messel designed the costumes, props and interior decoration for the 1946 film Caesar and Cleopatra, produced by Gabriel Pascal, in which Vivien starred as Cleopatra. Filming began on 12th June 1944, only six days after the D-Day landings and under difficult conditions; Messel and his team had to cope with shortages of materials required for the costumes and set, as well as a bomb landing just 150 yards from the set shortly after filming began. Despite these obstacles, Messel succeeded in producing lavish and inventive designs and over 2,000 costumes for the film. The present work, a design for the film, was gifted by the Artist to Vivien for Christmas in 1944.