9/04/2008

Portrait of the week - Petulance


'Petulance', painted in 1885 by a, to me, unknown painter (his initials are C.S.L. and if anyone knows more I would be happy for the information).

The painting is clearly dated to -85 and it is very clear that by that is meant 1885 - and the girl is dressed in a very obvious regency fashion with the high-waisted dress in a light colour, the little shawl wrapped around the upper part of her chest. That was not how girls in the 1880's were dressed.

The reason for this is the 19th century's liking for paintings that did not show the current time and/or place. Historical paintings flourished at this time, showing the death of lady Jane Grey, the court of Henry VIII, scantily dressed ladies at the sultan's harem, even Roman emperors and their extravagant lives. Another theme that kept reoccurring was people in regency clothing. The difference between paintings that really are from that time and these later versions is often more use of pink cheeks and glossy material in the clothing - though this is not so much the case here. It was like the regency looked like, but a little bit more of everything.

Why this girl is dressed in a regency outfit is not altogether obvious, it is not a made up portrait of some famous girl of the time but instead is supposed to illustrate the word 'petulance' with a sulking face and eyes that will not meet those of the beholder. Mood-themes on paintings was another thing more common for the late 19th century than the regency-era. Another tell-tale sign of the age of the painting is the girl's hair that is much more 1880's than 1810's - but it was easier to copy the dresses than the subtilities of hair-fashion.

1 comment:

vandy said...

An obviously much out of date comment: perhaps the painter is Charles Sillem Lidderdale (1831 - 1895)