8/13/2008

Portrait of the week - The lace maker


This is a painting called 'The Lace Maker' done by the Russian painter Vasili Andreevich Tropinin in 1823.

This painting is a portrait of an ordinary girl working with lace-making, we have no idea who she is (a common problem when it comes to paintings depicting those who are not high and mighty - or married to those who are).

Her dress is in any case a fine example of clothing of the 1820's - when regency has begun to move on to the more typical fashion of the 19th century with a lower waist and fuller skirts. But this is still when the waist of the dress is closer to the bust than the actual waist on the woman's body - you can not really see the waist itself, but the fall of the skirt reveals this very clearly. Around her shoulders there is a light shawl the cover the décolletage. The dress clearly has a rather low neck-line and it was common practice that during the day have a shawl or something similar to cover up. In the evening this would then be removed since it was thought of as less improper to reveal a lot of skin and cleavage later in the day.

Her hair is made up in a simple way, just gathered in a knot at the back of the head, no curls or anything else fancy - like she would in all probability have her hair any ordinary day when working, and not making it into something special for the occasion of being painted.

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