Accession Number: 1885N1536.12
‘… It was intended to exploit the popular feeling of revulsion in Britain caused by the French Revolution…’
© Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
As I am entering into my final project as a student I thought it would be a good idea to record my thoughts on my project and share my work with you. Our final costume is meant to be a representation of who we are as makers and as creators. I have had a life-long love affair with ballet and with the 18th century so I saw no better way to express myself than to combine the two. My hopes are to re-create a historical ballet costume that could be found in a modern production. I have chosen an 18th century design by Jean-Baptiste Martin entitled Paysanne Galante (1722) used in the Ballet de la Provencale and other dances. The second portrait is one of my favourites because in my mind she represent Payanne as a real costume. It’s one thing to have a drawing of an idea but it’s another to find a living woman wearing something similar.
More information on this project can be found on The Mended Soul
My mother pointed out last night that this design I am bringing to life is the epitome of an Ornamented Being. I can’t explain the reason but that thought warms my heart.
‘Corps à baleines, vers 1760, en toile de lin bis et damas bicolore vert à dessin d’arabesques de fleurs et oiseaux, piqûres rectilignes soulignant les baleines. Découpe crantée en pointes devant et basques étroites. Laçage à oeillets dans le dos, (doublure déposée, usures)’.
My bad google translation: Whalebone bodies (stays), circa 1760, in linen and bis-color green damask design with arabesques of birds and flowers, straight stitching highlighting the whalebone. Cut into wedges notched front and narrow skirts. Lacing eyelets in the back (lining filed wear).
If you don’t mind the quick history lesson I find these to be one of the most interesting items for sale simply because of the decoration. If you will note like the previous pair of stays I posted from this site (where three tabs are left in plain in fabric) the only decorative fabric on this pair of stays is the center front where they would actually be seen. Covering the entire surface would have been considered a waste of money as the gown would have covered the fabric.
One of the things I talked about when I interned in the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop in Colonial Williamsburg was about fabric. Everyone could dress the same but it was the fabric that was expensive. So in the 18th century (and previous centuries) the parts of your clothing that would never been seen would have been covered in a plain or different fabric.
Another good example of this is a petticoat from Whitaker Auctions here:
Documents d’une robe démontée, vers 1790, en gros de Tours de soie crème brodé de soie polychrome, filé et paillettes argent d’un semis de fleurettes sur le champ et de larges bordures de feuilles, gerbes de lys, oeillets, plantes ombellifères et graminées autour desquelles sont accrochés des colliers de pierres du Rhin retenant des camées à l’antique en satin imprimé. Bas de robe et corsage démontés, (manques et accidents).
My bad Google translation: Documents a dress removed, 1790, Wholesale Tours cream silk embroidered with polychrome silk yarn and silver glitter with a sprinkling of flowers on the field and wide borders of leaves, bunches of lilies, carnations, umbelliferous plants and grasses around which are hung necklaces rhinestones holding cameos in ancient printed satin. Low dress and blouse removed (gaps and accidents).
Stunning. Look at the cameos!
Ah ha! In a stroke of genius I found a reference for the final costume I am working on to complete my BA.
Corps à baleines, début du XVIIIe siècle,en damas ramagé rose, piqûres rectilignes soulignant les baleines. Devant en pointe arrondie à effet de corset lacé matérialisé par des dentelles aux fuseaux en sorbec argent, basques gainées de peau. Laçage à oeillets dans le dos, (quelques usures).
Oh look. Something I have to make now. Please excuse me while I go lust over this caraco.
Auction House Coutau-Bégarie - Rare caraco à laPierrot, vers 1785-1790, en taffetas vert bronze agrémenté dentrelacs de fins rubans crème, dos baleiné à basques retroussées. Décolleté carré, le devant baleiné est fermé par un laçage croisé destiné à laisser paraître le gilet ou corset choisi dans une couleur différente. La partie haute est composée de deux compères fermés par 3 boutons recouverts. Manches longues ajustées aux poignets fermées par 3 boutons recouverts, (état suberbe).
I’m sure someone will reblog this and be negative about it but I don’t really care. My mother is a strong woman and I am proud to take after her. She raised me to be very independent and it’s one of the reasons I was able to say farewell to my home and move to London alone. I have always known that if I was ever trapped in a tower I wouldn’t need a prince to rescue me, I can save myself.
That said I hope that one day I will find a man who will say something like what is inscribed on this ring. Who knows maybe I will find him and maybe I won’t. I’m only 23, I have time.
England, 18th century AD
‘Many are the stars I see but in my eye no star like thee’
The term ‘posy’, based on the French ‘poésy’, describes the amatory verse or rhyming motto with which the rings are engraved. Here the inscription reads: ‘Many are thee starrs I see yet in my eye no starr like thee’.
The practice of giving gold hoop rings engraved with mottoes at betrothals or weddings was common in England from the sixteenth century onwards, and continued until the late eighteenth century. ‘Posy’ rings could, however, be given on many other occasions as tokens of friendship or loyalty, and ‘posies’ are also found on religious and memorial rings. The inscription is generally found on the interior of the ring, hidden to everyone except the wearer. Most of the sentimental mottoes were taken from popular literature of the time, such as ‘chapbooks’ (pamphlets), or from collections on the language of courtship. A few customers would supply their own composition for the goldsmith to engrave.
The outside of the hoop was often decorated to enhance the message or to form part of the message itself. Coloured enamels could be used, or chased motifs, like the sixteen stars on this example. The inscriptions were usually enamelled in black, which makes them easier to read, although very few survive with all their enamel. The language and the style of the inscription helps us to date them.
S. Bury, An introduction to sentimental (London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985)
C. Oman, British rings 800-1914 (London, Batsford, 1974)
O.M. Dalton, Catalogue of the finger rings, (London, British Museum, 1912)
J. Evans, English posies and posy rings (Oxford University Press, 1931)
Calling all followers, I have need of your assistance! I am working on my final project for Uni and I am looking for extant examples of back lacing 18th century bodices or any information on 18th century dance costumes.
There are officially a couple thousand of you so I am very hopeful that someone will have spotted something. Any help is appreciated, thanks so much loves!
Sorry, the first bodice is from FIDM, the second is from the Met, the third is the inside of Sofia Magdalena’s wedding gown, and Marie Antoinette’s apple green bodice.
Lady’s mule slippers with long, narrow Continental toe, early 18th century
Lady’s shoes, Swedish, c. 1700
Sofia Magdalena’s coronation shoes, 1771
Queen Desideria’s coronation shoes, 1829
Queen Lovisa Ulrika’s coronation shoes, 1751
Queen Victoria’s white silk atlas wedding shoes, 1881
Queen Desideria’s silk shoe, including a silk bow decorated with 31 gold-colored spangles
Mrs. Cappelen’s shoes, covered in white silk, from Paris c. 1850
Absolutely fantastic article! Please make sure to stop by and let her know how much you enjoyed the post!
‘In fact, some have described shoes as “candy for the eye, a poetry of the feet” ‘.
In my opinion the centre back fabric used on the petticoat and back lacing of the bodice are the best parts! I love seeing pieces like this because the attention to detail was so important. If anyone is curious the CB petticoat panel is made in contrasting fabric because the gown covers the back of the skirt. It would be wasteful to spend money on fabric when that part of the skirt would never be seen. This thought is echoed all throughout fashion history. I would also like to point out that contrary to modern opinion, stitches were not always perfect!
Witakerauction: SILK BROCADE ROBE a la FRANCAISE, c. 1750. Red and white striped silk open gown and petticoat brocaded with floral sprays in yellow, blue, plum and green having short sleeve, square neck, front opening flanked by graduated padded furbelows with looped silk cord trim, neckline, faux waistcoat and sleeve similarly trimmed. Trained back falls from two double Watteau pleats flanked by inverted pleats at the waist, lining of striped silk with lacing muslin back adjustment. Petticoat pleated at waist with side ties, front panel having matching ruffle and hem band, back pieced with plaid taffeta. B-36, W-30, front L-50, back L-62. (Scattered small spots and holes, two stains to petticoat, some restoration) good. $1,500-1,800.
I am very much in love with the back of this caraco.
Whitaker Auction: PLAID SILK CARACO JACKET, c. 1770. Narrow sea green vertical stripe over cream and tan horizontal bands, open neck, short angled sleeve, pleated peplum angled at front, all trimmed in wide self furbelows, looped silk cord and tiny tassels, lined in linen with adjustable lacing closure and front stays. B-33, W-24, L-21. (Lace modern, lining light stains) excellent. $600-900.