6/21/2008

Portrait of the week - A lady wearing a white dress with a paisley shawl and holding a glove

Portrait of a lady wearing a white dress with a paisley shawl and holding a glove, painted by Francois Henri Mulard around 1810. Sitter unknown.

The painter is French which makes it rather safe to assume that so is the sitter, but by now the French fashion had a safe and firm grip on the whole of the western fashion so when looking at her dress this lady might as well be English or Italian.

She is wearing a morning dress in white. This is most clearly shown by the shawl that is wrapped around her neck. Regency clothing was rather revealing when it came to the bust, but when in morning-wear this what not the case, rather the idea was to hide the décolletage away - in a way that was not even done at a simple dinner-party at home.

The dress is still the preferred white, colours were by now coming into the fashion again, but they were often bright and white was still very common.

The long sleeves are another sure sign of this being a morning-gown. Evening-wear should always have short sleeves, and in short expose a lot of skin, in a way that a dress worn during the day just never did. Morning-dresses did not have to have long sleeves though.

The regency fashion was not all deprived of patterns though, as can be seen on both the checkered blue shawl around her shoulders and the paisley shawl that is draped around her. Paisley shawls were the thing to wear at this time. They were imported from the far East and could cost a small fortune, but if you had the money (and even sometimes even if you had not) you had no excuse not to get one.

The painting was sold at Christies in January, 1999.

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