A little cluster of images from the 1730's with notes:
'Tea party at Lord Harringtons' By C.Philips. 1730
Have just noticed, you know, that both ladies seem to have some sort of buckle at their waist. I wonder if this was a fashion for a time? At first I thought the front lady maybe had a bow with a buckle or black bit in it's centre but the second lady has one also. I've just zoomed in and they could be bows with a centre buckles but they could just as easily not be. Hmm...more research perhaps.
Answer: Am just reading the most wonderful book: Handbook of English Costume in the 18th Century. And on page 143 it reads: 'The Girdle: A narrow ribbon belt fastened in front by a bow or with a jewelled buckle.' He then quotes from the Weekly Journal from the year 1731 but gives no other date for the periods when this was most popular. From now on I will be referring to this in my notes as 'A girdle'!
- Both dresses appear to be Round gowns with stomacher fronts and short robings. Salmon pink dress has no decoration whilst the blue lady sitting next to her has rich gold and white large embroidery on both skirt and bodice. It has a military symmetry about it but also an ornate look.
- Salmon pink lady has pinched cuff detail and wears ruffles from her shift edged with lace. She also wears a handkerchief about her neck. Interestingly Cunnington says that it was more common to call this kind of neck-wear a handkerchief than a neckerchief, which I would've thought would've been the more used term; it sounds so much older fashioned. Her handkerchief does not appear to be edged with lace: which is worth noting for the sheer fact that it means it is not a part of a set that matches with her ruffles.
- According to my present understanding of caps, the salmon pink lady wears a pinner with lappets but the lappets are piled up and pinned in place, whereas the blue lady wears a pinner with long lace lappets and a ribbon detail on her pinner.
- Blue lady wears a gold 'Neck-lace' which I am sure I have a read a thousands times as being referred to this type of neckwear but I cannot find any reference to it at the moment. In Cunnington's Book 'The Handbook of English Costume' he does not refer to any form of twisted lace that would wind down over the stomacher but I have only flicked through rapidly. I'm sure if I re-read it I will find reference to it somewhere. And Iris Brooke in her 'Dress and Undress' actually draws it on page 85 but again, I can find no reference to her calling it by name. As far as I'm aware, sometimes it was worn tucked into the neck line (Cunnington uses the word decollotage instead of the word neckline) but mostly worn twisted over the stomacher and as in the painting above, tucked between the tabs that close the gown over the stomacher.
The Brewster Family - 1736 - Thomas Bardwell:
- There appears to be two paintings named 'the Brewster Family' by Thomas Bardwell in the same year and they both have similar content. I don't know if there has been a confusion at some point or if he really did paint almost the same painting twice in one year. Maybe they weren't happy with the 1st?
- Eldest Girl in Orange:
~ I find her shape quite interesting = it is less dead straight conical than most portraits I've seen (even Harrington's Tea Party above has that rular line look). I've always wondered how 'dead straight' their stays really held them. ( I have the advantage to be able to zoom in so I apologise if I talk about details you can't quite see.)
~ I believe the dress is a Robe a la Anglais with an open front skirt and contrasting quilted petticoat and matching stomacher.
~ I think her décolletage decoration is a tucker. I think this mainly because it doesn't go all the way around her neckline and it is quite deep - I may be wrong. According to Cunninton '64 you could purchase during this period frills or 'tuckers' that could be sewn onto the dress neckline or the shift. This differs from a frill coming directly from the shift.
~ Her robings are quite large. (the folded pleat that runs down the bodice CF line and frames the stomacher).
~ Sleeves end in pinched cuff detail and are mediumly baggy in cut.
~ She also has a long gauzy apron and wears what I think is a mob cap. She is holding flowers in both hands.
~ Jewellery wise; she is wearing a pearl choker.
- Youngest Girl in Front:
~ Wears a closed robe with back fastenings. This was sometimes referred to as a 'frock' (Cunnington '64).
~ Her décolletage is decorated with a frill from her shift.
~ She also has a full length gauzy apron, the pinched cuff detail (which looks like they may have been covered with something) and ruffles from her shift.
~ She may be wearing a pinner or a mop cap but whichever it is it is decorated with a ribbon and a little bunch of flowers.
- Middle Girl at Back:
~ There's not much to tell about this young lady except she wears an opened bodice Blue Robe a la Anglais with pinched cuff detail.
~ She has quite a deep neck frill that could be both a tucker or a frill from her shift. It doesn't seem to match the sleeve ruffles coming from her shift so possibly is a tucker
- The young man on the left (he looks older than he is because of his wigs and garments)
~ Is wearing his stocking UNDER his breeches which according to James Lever in 'English Costume in the Eighteenth Century' (p34) was introduced in the 30's, a fashion that came from France.
~ She is obviously in mourning and full mourning at that. She wears a neck covering of some sorts that comes right upto her chin. She has tucked it's ends through her bodice tucker/ties.
Thomas Bardwell - The Brewster Family - 1736:
- Just to say that there's not much else to mention on this version of the Brewster Family, except, that as before, the two slightly older girls are wearing Robe a la Anglais with open bodices and Stomachers, full length aprons and tuckers/frills (it's hard to tell).
- The front girl, again, as the younger, is wearing a back fastening gown which can also be referred to as a 'Frock' (see Cunnington '64).
- I think all three are wearing mob caps.
- All three wear ruffles from their shifts.
- I do plan to write up the details of the men at some point but I will get to that when I start researching menswear.
La Declaration - 1731 - De Troy
- A really good example of how much baggier the dresses in general were. I'm never sure if these are Contouches. According to James Lever in the book 'English Costume in the Eighteenth Century' they do seem to be as he says that the 'Sacque Gown, hanging loose from the shoulders and gathered into great folds over the hooped petticoat, appeared in 1740.' But before I read this I just assumed these dresses were early versions of the 'sacque', or 'sack-back' or 'robe a la francais': whichever you want to call it. They certainly have a 'sack' at the 'back', even from the 1720's. But the Contouches were also very similar and were initially a kind of house dress that slowly became acceptable into day wear (Brooke - Dress and Undress). If anyone knows anything about this I'd love to have a chat about it.
- The girl in black floral is definitely wearing an oblong hoop and has large (I'd say) grown-on cuffs similar in size and style to the men's except for the pinched details. There also appears to be the slightest appearance of her shift frill or tucker seen at the of her back neck. She wears a bow at the base of what appears to be a pinner-style cap and her hair is in tight curls against her head. She carries a fan.
- The Silver lady is a little more interesting with that incredibly soft and delicate looking embroidery on the edges of her Open Gown and along the hem of her 'coat' or 'petticoat'. (Cunninton) What's new to me is that she wears her gown bodice loose and open!? Displaying her stomacher or more likely matching corset. She appears to have a frill of lace (necklace) covering her decolletage (neckline) but it's quite hazy in the painting so this is not for certain. Her Robings (the pleats going down either side of her bodice opening) are short and seem to disappear into the egde of the skirt where it joins together at the hipline area. She also appear to be wearing bows on her sleeves and with either ruffles from her shift or sewn on ruffles, possibly to match her neck wear. Her pinner seems to be lace trimmed with a shortish lace and has long lappets that also appear to be lace-egded. She wears her hair close to her head and powdered in what could possibly be curls. She wears no visible earings but there is some sort of white item round her neck which could be anything from a part of the lace that's draped around her to a string of pearls. She also holds a fan but it is closed. Her dress in general is very loose and I'm sure there is one similar in Janet Arnolds Book but I can't find my copy at the moment so I can't double check. He shoes seem to match her gown and are slender heeled a little further in under the heel than what would probably be comfortable. Her shoes come to a point at the toe and don't appear to be decorated.
The Conquest of Mexico - Hogarth 1731-32:
This a close up of the detail from 'The Conquest of Mexico' by Hogarth I'll put the full painting below so you can see it, but this detail is so interesting. I love this painting, there's something so normal and family about this particular detail. The girls are adorable.
- Mother is wearing Robe a la Anglais (see main image) with pinched cuff detail and ruffles from her shift that are not lace edged. She wears elbow length white gloves. Her head wear is a little beyond my expertise at the moment but I am assuming it is some sort of mob cap as I'm quite sure a pinner doesn't have a mounted centre section. She wears a black bow at the back of it. She is also wearing drop earrings though it gets vague so close up, and a necklace (modern term I mean) which is either something like a string of pearls or a chunky chain.
- Centre Girl is my favourite. Her back detail has had me intrigued for months now, how it looked exactly like a slightly old fashioned way of putting a zip in. But Cunnington has provided the answer (see I knew there was a good reason to read). He writes on page 127: "The bodice usually boned, was fastened down the mid-line of the back by lacing, visible or concealed under a fly." (italics mine). She has a pair of hanging sleeves (those bands hanging from her shoulder) which was apparantly quite typical for children and even for young women before they were wed (see Cunnington again)
English Gown - c.1730's - LACMA:
-This is a round gown with an opened bodice and stomacher.
- Embroidered short robings.
- Ruffled Sleeve ending with 3 ruffles - interesting as I thought Cunnington states that the ruffled sleeve did not come in till slightly later but I'm going to have to go back and verify that.
- Note the fullness of the skirt at the CF. This disappears as the century progresses. Also to me I can see how much more similar this gown is to the 'farthingale' and how much it harps back to Elizabethan times. Brooke does suggest that the hoop was re-intoduced from some distant court where the farthingale was still being worn. And Laver states that the hooped skirt that 'made it's first appearance in the London streets in 1711' (Lever:English Costume, p18) 'has been suggested that it came from Germany, from some little Court where the great wheel farthingale known to Queen Elisabeth and to Anne of Denmark had survived for more than a century.' According to James Lever this hoop was, at first, just a series of circles joined together by ribbon like a sort of frame and then as time went on, was covered by fabric and then became a whole skirt by itself. And according to Brooke and also to Waugh it was originally treated not as a 'petticoat' as in the modern day sense of the term but as a item of dress to be seen.
'George Whitefield by Wollaston, active between 1738 and 1775,
'Queen of Prussia' by Pesne. 1737. Her ruffles seem to also stem from her shift and aren't too volumous. Her cuffs are a 'seperate cuff' in ermine and her dress also shows the same fullness round the front as the one above.
Apron 1730-40. So loved by this period....