A Little Cluster of Images from the 1740's With Notes:
Gainsborough - Conversation in Park (self-portrait) - 1746-47 or 1760:
- Her robe is an Open Robe in pink with robings and a breast knot at the centre front.
- It looks like there is a stomacher under that breast knot and it is, possibly, a similar colour to the petticoat (or 'coat' in the original term).
- Loose-ish baggy sleeves with winged cuff - seperate.
- She wears a blue underskirt (coat or petticoat) which itself doesn't seem to be boned or caned but does appear to have a frill. The reason why I mention this is that Norah Waugh in her book 'Corsets and Crinolines; on page 47, states that " This hoop petticoat, called in France 'panier', and in England sometimes 'improver', was usually made of rich material..." There is also a quote from 1738 that runs "Yesterday I bespoke a hoop petticoat of the exact dimensions of my old one; the fashionable hoops are made of the richest damask, trimmed with gold and silver, fourteen guineas a hoop..." And yet an inventory from the The Tatler, mentioned in Iris Brooke's book 'Dress and Undress' starting on page 60 and from the year 1710 "a quilted petticoat of the largest size and one of canvas with whalebone hoops..."
Anything made of 'gold and silver' was clearly designed to be seen! And yet our museums are full of canvas hoops designed to clearly not be seen. I'm not really clear on when this change happened, nor have I really seen any Open robes with their petticoat boned or glued (Waugh '54). Hmmm....
But anyway - hers is NOT caned/boned: so that is that.
- The shadow at the bottom of the blue petticoat does hint to there being a hoop under all of that.
- She appears to be also wearing a light gauze apron.
- And she is holding a white fan.
- Her shoes are blue (same colour as petticoat) with a tongue and possible buckle.
- Fairly longish shift/lace ruffles - you can just about see them and though not in detail, they still seem to come quite far beneath the cuff.
- She's wearing a Bergere Hat or 'Milkmaid hat' worn with a ribbon that ties under her chin and holds the brim down.
- Hair is worn long and natural - maybe encouraged to be curly and is also rather noticeably NOT powdered.
- There is a gentle suggestion of a frill around her neck and it goes all the way round so I'd suggest this is a frill from her shift.
Hogarth's - Countess' Morning Levee - 1745
- Part of the Marriage a la Mode Series.
Lady in white:
- Open robe with stomacher and robings.
- Slate/blue petticoat.
- Her sleeves are baggy and end in a large turned back cuff.
- Her shift ruffles come a fair way down beneath her cuff.
- Stomacher either has a band detail along the top in a similar colour to her petticoat OR it's an apron that's pinned to that height - I've not seen either option done like that before - more research. And if she's wearing an apron (atleast the skirt half) it's hard to tell. It seems to be suggested as the way a white amount of fabric falls over the CF opening but as the dress is white too, the lines are blurred.
- Note how the her dress is quite full at the front as well.
- Bergere hat/ Milkmaid hat with under cap. A black ribbon ties the wings down her cheeks. This cap seems very similar to a 'dormuese' which apparently didn't come in 'til the second half of the century (Cunnington and Cunnington '64) But then I'm not very good at my caps.
- Her neckline doesn't have a frill and what's tucked in round her décolletage is neither a fichu nor a tucker - which mainly lined the bottom edge right above the bosom.
- Her hair is rather unnaturally red - I've no idea if women of fashion dyed their hair back then - but what is obvious is that it isn't powdered and it's of a rather loose nature.
- Stockings of the men vary in colour and seem to be worn over the breeches.
'Kitchen Maid' by Chardin, 1740.
'May Day' by J.Nollekins. c 1740
'Girl on Spinning Wheel' by F.Hayman. 1745
Dated 1742, Manchester Galleries.
Hogarth 'Mary Edwards' 1742.
- 'Buckles for the stays' in which her neckerchief is tucked in.
- Loose baggy sleeves with lace ruffles either sewn into cuff or lace trimmed ruffles from her shift.
- A round gown with what looks like very short robings, coming only as far down as her waist - is that right?
- According to Cunnington the frills, tucker (frill that could be sewn onto the neckline) and neck cloth could all be sold as a complete matching set.
- Some kind of ornament or chatelaine hangs down from her waistline.
- Ruffles come quite far down here arm and are very full and very gathered.
Colonial Willimasburg. 1745. Note the quilted petticoat over panniers and the large cuff detail.
'Mr and Mrs Carter' Gainsborough. 1747-48. This is such an interesting painting and for many reasons. A) the way the skirts come up at the side, see how full the right hand side of the skirt is and how prominently it sits. Also the detail on that same right hand side of the skirt, with the slight gap at the top. There is another photo I have of another dress and it shows how that particular dress has been made and how the top of the sides of the skirt are just gathered in with a pull cord running through.. Could this be how this was sewn and therefore why there's a gap, or is it a pocket detail? There's an example in Janet Arnolds 'Patterns of Fashion' where the pocket slit was at the front of these side skirts and in between a join of two of the silk panels but then there are also other pocket hoops where the slit for the pockets has come at the top of the hoops and you go down with your hand into the actual pannier. Could it be that that makes this gap?
To be honest I can't figure it out, except it seems a really daft way of making them. Why would you want to see a gap? But anyway, onward and upward.