My Own Muse: Hot Date With Myself, No. 6, “Lilac Time, Montgomery Place in the Spring”

Being dumped by someone who said that they would love you forever sucks. The occurrence makes you rethink the slippery word “forever,” and also the people who aren’t old fashioned romantics, who relish the idea of growing decrepit and old together. Hey, monogamy isn’t for everyone, but don’t waste my time if you’re not captivated by the notion of being euthanized together on a bed of roses when you’re 88! As an integral part of this “don’t waste my time mentality,” I decided to date myself. Dress like a babe, go to all of my favorite places, and just romance the heck out of myself.

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After a few successful dates, I decided to enjoy the breathy bough of spring in the lilac perfumed gardens of Montgomery Place, Red Hook, NY (sorry if this date is slightly out of sequence). By late April or early May, the lilacs at Montgomery Place are in full bloom, infusing the balmy air with the sticky-sweet aroma of bursting lilac clusters. As I walked through the lilac bushes, buzzing with bee activity, I was lulled into a hazy state of utter relaxation. It was an olfactory heaven, accompanied by the tune of one hundred honey bees flapping their gossamer wings.

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At this point, you can tell that I was really swooning for myself amongst the lilac branches. Imagine that scene from Disney’s Bambi, where the cute forest creatures are being walloped over the head with love in the spring– a phenomenon termed “twitterpated.” Yes, indeed, I was twitterpated, all right! In my state of amorous delirium, I walked over to a small garden, nearest to the Montgomery Place mansion–  the mansion was built as a Federal-style home in 1804 by Janet Livingston Montgomery, and transformed into a Classical Revival mansion between the 1849s and 1869s by Alexander Jackson Davis.
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The small sunken garden paths were lined with early blooming bulbs, giant snowdrops, and unfurling ferns, leading me down to the belly of the garden where a tiny pond exists. A layer of green duck weed skims the surface of the pool, obscuring the black water beneath, and acts as a cloak for the dozens of frogs living there.  As I neared the pond, I was amused by the sight and sound of many fleshy frogs hurling their fat little bodies into the water. Well, with all of these handsome amphibians about, perhaps I’ll find prince charing here!

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You’ll be happy to know that I did happen upon a completely alluring frog, who was not only an attractive shade of green, but very friendly. What a hunk!

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Because I was wearing blue velvet covered shoes with a five-inch heel, I figured I should forget about navigating the wooded trails on the Montgomery Place property– one leading to the Hudson River, the other leading to a waterfall. While I do consider my heels athletic-wear, they were no match for the twisted-root riddled trails. That being said, I hopped, skipped and jumped with my pointed toes to a neighboring garden with darling brick paths and a central sun-dial.

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With lilac in the air, and amphibians in my heart, I strolled into the sunset on a perfect hot date with myself. God, if only those frogs could see me now! So, dear readers, if you ever happen to visit Montgomery Place– which is now a part of the Bard College Arboretum– be sure to visit all of the meandering pathways which afford incredible views and garden delights. And don’t forget to say hello to my beloved froggy friends!

 

 

 

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My Own Muse: Hot Date With Myself, No. 5, “Images of Internment,” Exhibition at the FDR Presidential Library (2017)

If you’re like me, and you have a penchant for attracting liars, cheats, and emotionally hollowed-out husks of men, do yourself a favor and date yourself. Style that hair, strap on your best shoes, and go out into the world, confident that your favorite heels would never let you down. Literally. Personally, after being thrown into an unwanted girlfriend receptacle by my ex, I picked myself up out of the the heap, and looked into a bright future of hot dates with myself!

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For date number 5, I thought that it might be best to pull out all of the stops. Really impress myself. I wanted the museum, the mansion and the garden experience all rolled into one delectable date! Perusing the internet during the summer of 2017, I discovered that the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, NY was having an exhibition titled “Images of Internment: The Incarceration of the Japanese Americans During WWII,” featuring ephemera, documents, and over 200 WPA photographs of the wasteland habitat carved-out for Japanese Americans by the impetus of Executive Order 9066. If anything else, this date would fashion an entire new appreciation for my mobile freedom.

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I began my date by taking a tour of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home, Springwood. It was the place that he was born, rode pretty ponies as a boy, retreated during his Presidency, and, after he died, came to rest in the rose garden– along with his wife and my girl, Eleanor Roosevelt, and faithful dog, Fala. But, we’ll visit the gang in the rose garden a bit later on my date.

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The romance of my date with myself began at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center, where  I, along with a jolly band of tour goers, gathered around a pictorial mosaic floor map of FDR’s childhood neighborhood. This set-up allows for moments of intense geographical study, wistful daydreaming, and casual people watching while a knowledgeable U.S. Park Ranger tour guide fills you in on local history.

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After gaining a better grasp on local topography, it was time to walk over to the Springwood home, which was purchased by FDR’s father, James Roosevelt, in 1866. In 1882, Franklin D. Roosevelt made his grand entrance into the world within the walls of Springwood, and would later come to live there with his mum, Sara Roosevelt, and his fantastically wonderful– though genetically too close for my modern comfort– cousin and bride, Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1915, FDR and his mummy dearest, Sara, decided that the home was too small for a growing family, and hired the Hoppin and Koen architectural firm of NYC to add two additional wings to the original house, resulting in a charming Colonial Revival-style structure, with field stone facade, and columned portico. Some rather handsome ivy has taken residence on the outer walls, and spends its time on the portico with 100 year-old potted palms. What fun!

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View from Springwood Home of the Hudson Valley

Stepping across the threshold of Springwood is like entering a time capsule, which was permanently suspended in the year of 1945– the year of FDR’s death. As per his request, the Springwood estate and property was donated to the public, and given to the U.S. Department of the Interior, where it has since then been maintained as a National Historic Site. The home boasts some interesting ship and sailboat paintings (FDR was a great collector of them– among other things), a fun game of Parcheesi from the 1940s (I’m dying to know who won the game!), and all of Sara Roosevelt’s encroaching floral curtains. After FDR’s death, Eleanor Roosevelt remained in her personal home on the estate, Val-Kill, which you can visit.

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After exiting the house, I wandered to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library by way of the garden, and said hello to the bones of FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, and little dog, Fala. (They were enjoying the pleasant sunny weather!). After paying my respects, I finally made my way to the library and museum, where I could enjoy the “Images of Internment: The Incarceration of the Japanese Americans During WWII” exhibition, which was tinged with bitter sweet irony, since it was FDR himself who signed into order the awful Executive Order 9066.

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After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, fear and rumors stirred together on the west coast of the U.S. to create an ugly cocktail of racist sentiment and xenophobia. In response to the spread of fear, hatred and political pressure, FDR signed Executive order 9066, authorizing the Secretary of War to designate certain areas as military zones, which allowed for the incarceration of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent: 70,000 of which were American born citizens, and none of which were found guilty of espionage or sabotage.

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Entire families were taken from their homes, losing businesses and belongings, and placed behind barbed wire in some of the most desolate and lonely landscapes of the American West. Some of the photos displayed at the exhibition were taken in camps such as Heart Mountain, and Manzanar, where windy, wet winters, and dusty, dry summers chafed at the people who lived in flimsy plywood homes.

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photo: Dorothea Lange (1943)

However, the incarcerated prisoners made the best of the situation, setting up schools, ballet studios, newspapers, and even screen printing shops. As a super tangential side-note, some members of the Internment Camps joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Unit in 1943, becoming the most highly decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. History. Coming from the wastelands of the American West, their motto was appropriately “Go For Broke.”

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Photo: Hikaru Iwasaki (1943)

All of the photos exhibited an interplay of darkness and light: hopeful smiles from children set in a barren dustbowl; unflagging athletes competing in games with a barbed wire backdrop; proud graduates donning a cap and gown, trapped in place of confinement. Of course (because I cry like three times a day for fun), these exquisite photos brought tears to my eyes. I was reminded that even in the depths of sadness and strife, there is hope of happiness if one is strong enough and willing enough to alter their perspective. And just like the little girl, flying through the air on a swing in Hikaru Iwasaki’s photo (1943), I, too, have seen a beautiful place for myself on the horizon.

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My Own Muse: Hot Date with Myself, No. 1, Vanderbilt Mansion Italian Garden

In June of 2017, I had a summer of fun heating-up on the horizon. My boyfriend would return from Florida, I was on summer break from grad school, and I had a killer new collection of crop-tops to show-off my hot rib-cage with! Yowza! However, the ripe promise of June came with a rotten surprise. My boyfriend returned home, only to inform me that he had found a new life in the sink-holes of Florida (Pun intended. He sure found some holes that he liked). After being mercilessly cast aside for a southern gal, and left broken and alone in my Hudson Valley home, I spent the first month of my summer break from school carrying around a box of Kleenex, weeping like a professional mourner from Mark Meily’s Crying Ladies (2003).  In June, I dressed like Queen Victoria. I mourned in black. My rib-cage hidden from the world.

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Then, in July, I got a hold of myself. I realized that it was unfair to my gracious friends to impose my driveling pool of gelatinous emotions upon them for another month. After recounting the fateful day that my ex-boyfriend unceremoniously kicked me to the singles curb about ninety-seven times, I took mercy upon my lovely friends, and decided to create a new narrative. I had to become that better me that I always read about in self-help blogs. I decided, on July first, I would date myself. I would fall deeply, madly, inextricably in love.

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So, I threw-off my somber black attire, and armed my new and improved romantic body with a sky-blue, off-the-shoulder maxi dress. With bounce in my stride, I took my rapturous blue hide over to the Italian Gardens of the Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park, NY. Strolling along the symmetrical pathways between the precise flower beds, I felt a semblance of control returning to me. The extravagance of Frederick William Vanderbilt and his Gilded Age home (designed by architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, and inhabited by the Vanderbilt family from 1895-1938) and gardens reminded me that I could indulge in a bit of decadence. In an act of pure hedonistic pleasure, I updated my beloved miniature calendar book, while resting in the shade of the pergola. God, do I know romance!

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As I sensually penned dates into my itinerary for July, I was enamored by the sultry, shady ferns that surrounded me. There must be some significance in an entire garden devoted to the plant. After a bit of cursory research, I discovered a phenomenon known as Pteridomania (Aka. fern fever)! Throughout the Victorian period, there was a craze for collecting, hunting and cultivating ferns in both England and America. Much of this craze was fostered by botanists George Loddiges and Edward Newman. Owner of one of the largest hot-houses in London, Loddiges claimed that collecting ferns “showed intelligence, and improved both virility and mental health,” an assertion which his botanist buddy, Edward Newman, backed-up in his mid-century masterpiece, A History of British Ferns (1840). Frederick William Vanderbilt made sure that he was associated with the noble plant, thus ensuring his image of intelligence and manly virility with his handsome fern garden. Ugh. Where are all of these fern-cultivating men in the twenty-first century!?!?

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So, dear reader. As I concluded the first date with myself in the Vanderbilt Garden, I decided that I was one hell of a gal, and that only a fern loving gent could take me away from me! Swoon! Also, you’ll be relieved to hear that it was time to bare my ribcage to the word, once again.

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A Leopard Must Change its Spots….

I embark upon this new year, wearing plaid pants, a banana brooch, and a big-old leopard-print swing coat. Embedded in the threads of my loud and incongruous get-up are messages of hope, destiny and….what the hell am I doing with myself in 2018?!?! Like the clothes that I wear, this question is rhetorical.

As a Costume Studies grad student at NYU, I know that the clothing that I wear contains conative and subliminal declarations about who I am. I’ve written research papers about all of this. It must be so! But, this notion only makes me uneasy. Is my 1990s punk-revival/granny outfit a sign that I’m looking to the past for comfort, or that my future is likely to be a circus? Perhaps it’s just a flamboyant palette cleanser for a tart 2017. The past year contained moments of glory and growth, but also a few minor disasters. For example, in the midst of grad school, my long-term boyfriend cheated on me, moved to Florida, and left me with a dilemma about finding someone to help me pay the rent, while simultaneously filling the void in my gutted soul (OK. That was a bit dramatic, but I am dressed like a wild-cat!). With deft anger and scrappy resilience, I managed to resolve this problem, but, by-golly, am I left with a bad taste in my mouth! Holding onto my knickers, and finding comfort in loud textile patterns, I go forth.

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In 2018, I have decided to look for a new job, publish my work, rekindle old friendships, and ignite new ones. Most excitingly, I am determined to go on 100 hot dates with myself. No historic site, museum, garden, mountain-top, restaurant or dive-bar will be immune from my romantic inclinations, and desirous heart. Oh, to find myself in a beautiful sunrise, or delicious flan! So, stay-tuned. Prepare to come-along with me through the annals of history, the paths of curiosity, all while wearing clothing of major connotation. In short, I will be my own goddamned muse!

Happy 2018, darlings! Mwah!

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The Historic Crescendo of Indian Cotton Muslin in the West (1770-1820)

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Muslin fabric was the textile of emperors.  While the Indian continent historically boasts many different varieties of textiles—from calico to ikat— it was the remarkably translucent, wonderfully white characteristics of cotton muslin that the Indian Mughal court revered. When The British East India Company received a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I of England, in 1600, a long history of trade between Europe and India began. Cotton textiles were among the most popularly imported items from the exotic, far-reaches of India, and chief among these cotton textiles was muslin. During the eighteenth-century, the production of the cloth had reached its zenith in popularity amongst Europeans, and up until the close of that century, the quality of the fabric was far-superior to anything that Europe could produce.

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            In a global sense, India had been ahead of the cotton-based textiles game for a couple millennia. Cotton had existed as a domesticated and cultivated plant on the Indian continent for thousands of years, proof of which can be found in the domesticated cotton fibers and seeds which have been found in excavation sites in Baluchistan, dating from around 6,000 BC.  By the time European companies started trading with India in the seventeenth-century, the spinners and weavers of India had the advantage of working with cotton for a long period of time.

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            The cotton muslin which pre-dates the twentieth-century is much different in appearance and quality than what is modernly termed as muslin. The muslin fabrics produced in India during the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century could be defined as a plain-weave, cotton cloth with a translucent appearance. Because of its sheer and airy characteristics, it was originally named after the French word for mousse: mousseline. Later, it was adapted into the English language, and mousseline became muslin. Because the fabric was so diaphanous and sheer, it acquired other monikers which denoted the degree of the fabric’s delicacy. “Woven-wind” and “evening dew” were just a few names which were attributed to Indian cotton muslin. “In the 1760s the Dutch traveler Stavorinus wrote that ‘Bengal muslins were made so fine that a piece twenty yards in length or even longer could be put into a common pocket ‘tobacco box’”

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The delicacy of the cotton thread used to construct muslin textiles and the difficulty of weaving muslin fabric allowed for India to corner-the-market on fine muslin, so to speak. The art of making a fabric which could be described to be as dainty as “spider web” required specialized skill and unique conditions. It was Dacca India which was known, during the seventeenth and eighteenth-centuries, for making the most exquisite and translucent muslin fabric. But how did a rural region which was made up of small villages produce a fabric which was unparalleled by modern western countries? Fortunately, for the western world, the answer has been preserved in a written record by the medical officer, James Taylor, who lived in Dacca India between the years 1828 and 1846. Although his report post-dates the period which has been highlighted in this paper, the slow-moving technology changes in rural India make it highly plausible that the techniques described in Taylor’s report apply to the manufacture of the fabric in the eighteenth-century.

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The process for making delicate muslin begins with the cotton plant itself. In the flood-planes along the Brahmaputra River, the land is seasonally covered with a fine silt, making the soil fertile. The cotton which grows in the silty soil of the region has been cultivated to produce a boll with exceptionally long and thin fibers.  Such choice cotton bolls were cleaned in an ancient technique, where women used the small teeth attached to the jawbone of the boalee fish to comb out the seeds. To remove the dirt and knots from the processed boll, the cotton fibers were laid out into a pile. The next step to the process was quite simple, but clever. Workmen struck a large stringed bow with a wooden mallet, and set the bow against the pile of cotton, where the vibrations of the bow shook the dirt from the cotton, while simultaneously fluffing the fibers. Now, the cotton was ready for spinning.

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The spinning process could not be left to just any hand. Because of their nimble young fingers and acute eye-sight, women under thirty years of age were chosen to spin the cotton yarn.  The relentless humidity of Dacca eased the stress on the fibers, making it more pliable for spinning and weaving. William Ward observed in 1818, “Women of all castes prepare the cotton thread for the weaver, spinning the thread on a piece of ware, on a very thin rod of iron with a ball of clay on one end, this they turn round with the left hand, and supply the cotton with the right.”

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The weaving portion of muslin cloth production was customarily performed by men. The work of weaving required great restraint and dexterity to work with cotton yarns which were so fine. The weaving work was executed on a simple loom, where the warp yarns were strengthened through a process of soaking the yarns in rice paste. After the cloth was woven, the starchy rice paste was washed out of the fabric in a running stream, and laid out in a field to bleach in the sun. The resulting fabric appeared sheer and filmy, and as it was stretched on the ground to dry and bleach, it resembled spider webs, or in the hazy morning sun, dew.

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Before the nineteenth-century, Indian cotton textile production was ordinarily carried-out in villages, and was performed at the house-hold level, where every member of the family was involved in the production process. Children would clean and card the cotton and assist the weaver, women would spin the cotton, and men would weave the fabric. Each district specialized in one textile—Dacca specializing in fine muslin. These localized centers for production were called aurangs. The cleaning, spinning and weaving processes were further specialized and determined by caste and occupational factors. In a sense, the divided labor system of the aurangs resembles an assembly line in a modern factory, where each separate “part” or step in the production was allotted to one person or group who specialized in just one task. Such aurangs in Dacca fell under the patronage of the Mughal Court, who controlled the production over the best weavers. While the Mughal Court allowed muslin to be sold to Europeans, the finest muslin was reserved for the Court. It wasn’t until the late eighteenth-century, after the British conquest of India, that the British took control over the aurangs, and, in turn, gained access to the highest-quality muslin fabrics.

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You may be wondering why it was so important for the European trading companies to get their hands on fine muslin woven in Dacca. The answer has a lot to do with the changes in western philosophy, aesthetics and fashions, and the increased demand for textiles which were suited to these new ideals. During the second half of the eighteenth-century, Neoclassicism had taken a hold of western Europe. The architecture and fashion of the time had a dominant Greco-Roman appeal, spawned by the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii in 1748.  The fashion for resembling Greek marble sculpture encouraged the wearing of beautiful white fabrics in the form of the fichu, shawl and dress. It was Indian cotton muslin which was the best-suited to these Greek-goddess-inspired fashions, with its elegant, soft drape and gossamer sheerness.

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By the mid 1780s, the robe en chemise became popular, after the fashion forward Queen Marie Antoinette was immortalized in a portrait by Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Le Brun, (painted in 1783), wearing the underwear-like garment. Although the robe en chemise’s debut amongst privileged circles was shocking, it was quickly embraced by the fashionable elite. Soon, European royalty, like the Prussian princesses Friederike and Luise, and aristocrats, like Juliette de Recamier, were wearing simple white dresses made of muslin fabric.

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During the first two decades of the nineteenth-century, the empire-waisted muslin dress was the reigning fashion, and can be seen being modeled in early nineteenth-century fashion-plates, and portraits of royalty and aristocrats.  Empress Josephine de Beauharnais—Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife— cemented the look in popular fashion, reflecting her husband’s politically fashioned, Neoclassical imperial style through the white empire dress. Josephine and her fashionable friends were known to splash water on the filmy muslin material of their gowns, causing the fabric to cling to their figures, while simultaneously becoming even more transparent. Not only was the wearing of muslin fabric a political statement, but it was a seductive act, as well. The prevailing cultural climate consisting of Greco-Roman inspired Neoclassicism, “Anglomania-style,” which elevated simple country wear to high fashion, and the idea of the return-to-nature, supported by such philosophers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, coupled with the inherent alluring qualities of the fabric all ensured the ready adaption of white dresses and accessories made from muslin into popular fashion.

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Aside from the fabric’s visual appeal, muslin possessed practical qualities, as well. Not only were cotton textiles more cost-effective than textiles like silk and wool, but cotton fabric was color-fast. This meant that clothing and bedding made of cotton fabric could be dyed a color, or feature dyed popular motifs and designs, and withstand exposure to sunlight and washing. In the case of cotton muslin, it was a good choice for undergarments because the fabric could easily be washed. Because both outer-garments and undergarments made of cotton were washable, new concepts of cleanliness emerged in nineteenth-century European culture. Cotton muslin was a marvel of both beauty and hygiene.

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Although Europe tried to emulate the cotton muslin fabric, they were, at first, only able to produce cruder, lower-grade muslin fabrics. It is for this reason that Indian muslin was highly sought after by European traders.  Especially during the mid-to-late eighteenth-century, the European demand for Indian cotton muslin reached its peak. In the decade between 1760 and 1770 alone, it is estimated that European companies imported around 1,400,000 pieces of Indian cotton fabrics. The exceptionally sheer and delicate muslin fabric known as jamdani was the variety which was most difficult for Europeans to replicate. Jamdani is an-ultra-fine muslin fabric which has been embellished with cotton yarns, introduced as weft threads during the weaving process, forming a white-on-white pattern. In the caste-conscious culture of India, it was the Muslim men who wove jamdani muslin, and the Hindu men who wove plain muslin.

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As fine and beautiful as the hand-woven Indian cotton muslin was, the cottage industry system which ruled the production of the fabric in Dacca could not compete with the developing machinery emerging out of England at the close of the eighteenth-century. In 1779, the spinning mule was invented by Samuel Crompton, which revolutionized yarn making. The spinning mule could generate yarn that was both smooth and fine, and could be produced at a much faster rate than by hand. By 1800, English cotton mills featured steam-powered spinning mules and steam-powered looms which out-classed and out-produced weaving centers in Dacca, India. By the dawn of the nineteenth-century, the age of the machine and the Industrial Revolution had come into its own. While the Industrial Revolution began in England around 1780, it was in the year 1800 that a steady advance in efficiency and technology occurred. Machines and technology that produced textiles made up 43% of productivity advancements, which points to the importance of textiles as both utility, luxury and commodity.

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 Truly, it was the sound of the steam engine’s pistons, cogs and wheels that signaled the end of the millennia-old muslin weaving tradition in Dacca, India. Around 1790, machines in England were producing most of the cotton textiles that were sought after in the commercial market, which spelled a declining demand for the Indian made muslin. While the exotic beauty and functionality of Indian cotton muslin had captivated the desire and imaginations of western Europe, beginning in the seventeenth-century, the ethereal hand-woven fabric was inevitably left behind in the annals of history as time marched forward, into the age of machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

 

Berg, Maxine. Goods from the East, 1600-1800: Trading Eurasia.

Edited by Maxine Berg, Felicia Gott Mann, Hanna Hodacs, Chris Nierstrasz. U.K.: Pelgrave Macmillan, 2015.

 

 

Bhadra, Siddhartha. “The Impact of British Industrial Revolution on Bengal Industry.” IOSR Joural of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2014.

 

 

Bhatnager, Parul. “Sari-Tangil and Jamdani.” www.academia.edu/373055/sari-tangil_and_jamdani.

 

 

Clark, Gregory. “The Long March of History: Farm Wages, Population and Economic Gowth, England 1209-1869.” Economic History Review. February, 2009.

 

 

Crill, Rosemary. Fruit of the Loom: Cotton and Muslin in South Asia. Center for Policy Dialogue. 2016.

cpd.org.bd/private-public-and-civil-society-partnership-is-critical-for-revival-of-muslin/

 

 

Cole, Daniel James. “Hierarchy and Seduction in Regency Fashion” Jane Austen Society of North America. Vol.33, No. 1, 2012.

 

 

Harris, Jennifer. 5,000 Years of Textiles. London: British Museum Press, 1999.

 

 

Irwin, John and P.R. Schwartz. Studies of European Textile History. Ahmedabad, India: Calico Museum of Textiles, 1966.

 

 

Lubrich, Naomi. “The Little White Dress: Politics and Polyvalence in Revolutionary France.” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. 2015.

 

 

McDowall, Carolyn. “The Fabric of India—V&A London, Showcases Indian Textiles.” The Culture Concept Circle. V&A, London, 2015.

 

 

Riello, Giorgio. “The Making of a Global Commodity: Indian Cottons and European Trade, 1450-1850.” The Proceedings of the First Congress of the Asian Association of World Historians. U.K.: University of Warwick Press, 2010.

 

 

Riello, Giorgio. “When Cotton was Banned: Indian Cotton Textiles in Early Modern England.” Fifteen Eighty Four. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

 

 

Sarkar, Suborna. “Inventive Employ of Jamdani: An Idiosyncratic Cram and Analysis.” European Journal of Business and Management, Vol.8, No.12, 2016.

 

Ward, W. A View of the History, Literature and Mythology of the Hindoos, Vol.1. Serempore: Mission Press, 1818.

[1] Crill, Rosemary. “Fruit of the Loom: Cotton and Muslin in South Asia.” Center for Policy Dialogue. 2016. cpd.org.bd/private-public-and-civil-society-partnership-is-critical-for-revival-of-muslin/. 2.

[2] Irwin, John and P.R. Schwartz. Studies of European Textile History. Ahmedabad, India: Calico Museum of Textiles, 1966. 1.

[3] Crill, Rosemary. “Fruit of the Loom: Cotton and Muslin in South Asia.” Center for Policy Dialogue. 2016. cpd.org.bd/private-public-and-civil-society-partnership-is-critical-for-revival-of-muslin/. 2.

 

[4] Irwin, John and P.R. Schwartz. Studies of European Textile History. Ahmedabad, India: Calico Museum of Textiles, 1966.

[5] Berg, Maxine. Goods from the East, 1600-1800: Trading Eurasia.

Edited by Maxine Berg, Felicia Gott Mann, Hanna Hodacs, Chris Nierstrasz. U.K.: Pelgrave Macmillan, 2015. 119.

[6] Irwin, John and P.R. Schwartz. Studies of European Textile History. Ahmedabad, India: Calico Museum of Textiles, 1966.

[7] Harris, Jennifer. 5,000 Years of Textiles. London: British Museum Press, 1999. 106.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Bhadra, Siddhartha. “The Impact of British Industrial Revolution on Bengal Industry.” IOSR Joural of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2014. 12.

[11] Harris, Jennifer. 5,000 Years of Textiles. London: British Museum Press, 1999. 106.

[12] Irwin, John and P.R. Schwartz. Studies of European Textile History. Ahmedabad, India: Calico Museum of Textiles, 1966.

[13] Ward, W. A View of the History, Literature and Mythology of the Hindoos, Vol.1. Serempore: Mission Press, 1818. 93.

[14] Harris, Jennifer. 5,000 Years of Textiles. London: British Museum Press, 1999. 106.

[15] Bhadra, Siddhartha. “The Impact of British Industrial Revolution on Bengal Industry.” IOSR. Joural of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2014. 12.

[16] Berg, Maxine. Goods from the East, 1600-1800: Trading Eurasia.

Edited by Maxine Berg, Felicia Gott Mann, Hanna Hodacs, Chris Nierstrasz. U.K.: Pelgrave Macmillan, 2015. 126.

[17] Bhatnager, Parul. “Sari-Tangil and Jamdani.” www.academia.edu/373055/sari-tangil_and_jamdani.

[18] Cole, Daniel James. “Hierarchy and Seduction in Regency Fashion” Jane Austen Society of North America. Vol.33, No. 1, 2012. 3.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Lubrich, Naomi. “The Little White Dress: Politics and Polyvalence in Revolutionary France.” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. 2015.

[21] McDowall, Carolyn. “The Fabric of India—V&A London, Showcases Indian Textiles.” The Culture Concept Circle. V&A, London, 2015.

[22] Irwin, John and P.R. Schwartz. Studies of European Textile History. Ahmedabad, India: Calico Museum of Textiles, 1966.

[23] Riello, Giorgio. “The Making of a Global Commodity: Indian Cottons and European Trade, 1450-1850.” The Proceedings of the First Congress of the Asian Association of World Historians. U.K.: University of Warwick Press, 2010. 11.

[24] Berg, Maxine. Goods from the East, 1600-1800: Trading Eurasia.

Edited by Maxine Berg, Felicia Gott Mann, Hanna Hodacs, Chris Nierstrasz. U.K.: Pelgrave Macmillan, 2015. 124.

[25] Sarkar, Suborna. “Inventive Employ of Jamdani: An Idiosyncratic Cram and Analysis.” European Journal of Business and Management, Vol.8, No.12, 2016.

[26] Crill, Rosemary. “Fruit of the Loom: Cotton and Muslin in South Asia.” Center for Policy Dialogue. 2016. cpd.org.bd/private-public-and-civil-society-partnership-is-critical-for-revival-of-muslin/. 2.

[27] Bhadra, Siddhartha. “The Impact of British Industrial Revolution on Bengal Industry.” IOSR Joural of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2014. 13.

[28] Clark, Gregory. “The Long March of History: Farm Wages, Population and Economic Gowth, England 1209-1869.” Economic History Review. February, 2009. 122.

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The Portrait of Elizabeth Farren, Painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1789)

 

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I just adore this portrait of Elizabeth Farren! As soon as I enter the gallery where she is housed (in the European wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), I swoon. I hardly notice any other portraits around me. It’s just Elizabeth Farren and I in that room. I’m infatuated. In love.

But what makes this painting so compelling? Is it her smiling Irish eyes? The gossamer white silk satin and cotton muslin of her wardrobe? The languid paint-strokes which make up her body? Perhaps it is a combination of all three. The painting titled Elizabeth Farren, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, is a masterful rendition of the popular Irish actress, who ascended the ranks of both English theater and society. But, her climb up the proverbial social ladder was not just blind luck. Hard work and careful management of her image were essential to Elizabeth Farren’s success as an actress and as a wife to the twelfth earl of Derby. Framed within the confines of this portrait are symbolic and cultural messages, which transmit ideas about reputable social standing and the feminine ideal. The portrait of Elizabeth Farren is a careful composition, which was painted in the manner of aristocratic portraiture, and is the result of a collaboration of ideas between Elizabeth Farren and Sir Thomas Lawrence. Far from being a carefree and fanciful painting, Elizabeth Farren is a work of great integrity and intent, and would have been highly readable to a contemporary audience.

The painting was shown at the Royal Academy in 1790,where it was well received and praised for its brilliant technique and composition. The brush strokes are fluid and soft, her body is positioned to face the grasses and trees of the natural background, as if she has suddenly decided to walk in that particular direction, while her head turns back to the viewer, beckoning one to follow her into the painting. Her lustrous white satin cape pops into the space of the viewer, seemingly crossing over from the boundaries of the two dimensional confines of the painting. Central to the composition of the painting is a rather rotund and richly colored brown fur muff, which is offset by the diaphanous material of the cotton muslin dress which she wears.

The composition in its entirety suggests liveliness and natural spontaneity— artistic marks which Lawrence was well known for, and for which he had no contemporary parallel. When Lawrence painted Elizabeth Farren  in the spring of 1790, he was all but twenty-two years old, starting out his career as a child prodigy who would sketch drawings of customers in his father’s hotel, The Black Bear. Just recently departing from pastels to pick up the medium of oil painting, Lawrence’s accomplishments with Elizabeth Farren are impressive.Contemporaries and modern viewers alike can observe in the painting Lawrence’s ability to capture the personality of the sitter, in a way which appears lively. This was achieved by Lawrence’s preliminary sketch techniques, where he spent a few hours studying the natural expressions and gestures of the sitter, drawing with black chalk on canvas.The initial engagement between artist and sitter is preserved in Lawrence’s final painting, therefore making the painting appear more life-like. Contemporaries noted, “We have seen a great variety of pictures of Miss Farren, but we never before saw her mind; arch, careless, spirited elegant and engaging.”Lawrence’s finishing touch, which added to the fluidity and animation of the portrait, was his technique of flicking white highlights across Farren’s hair, fingers, and face

Beyond Lawrence’s personal touches of painterly panache, he did largely work within the aesthetic framework of his contemporaries. It has been noted that he gleaned much of his compositional form from fellow painter, Thomas Gainsborough. Before beginning his painting on Elizabeth Farren, Lawrence had visited Gainsborough’s studio, where it is noted on the back of a drawing by Gainsborough that Lawrence had spent “several successive days [studying] when Lord Derby employed him to paint Miss Farren.” The particular work which Lawrence was studying was Gainsborough’s drawing of an anonymous young woman who wears white, walks into a natural landscape and looks back over her shoulder at the viewer. Both Lawrence’s painting and Gainsborough’s drawing share these particular details. (Figure 1)

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figure 1

The open air setting of grass, trees and sky was quite popular in British portraiture of the last half of the eighteenth-century. Portraits were largely commissioned by the landed aristocracy, or the aspiring—in which case displaying one’s permanency as landed Gentry was expressed through idyllic natural backgrounds. “The landed aristocracy had of course always seen itself , and has been seen by everyone else, as representing permanence….[There was no] clearer expression of continuity through time than the park landscapes, the wide lakes and ancient trees….which are featured in so many portraits.”Some examples of portraits which include landscapes of English countryside include Sir William Beechey’s Portrait of a Young Girl (circa 1790) in fig. 2, and George Romney’s portrait of Lady Anne de la Pole (1786) in fig. 3.

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figure 2                                                                                    figure 3

English portraiture during the late eighteenth century showed “a keen fondness for pastoral settings and costume,” and was centered on “rural pastimes.”Lawrence’s artistic oeuvre reveals that much, of his late-eighteenth century portraiture feature backdrops with grassy lawns, bordered by trees and foliage. To observe the lithe figure of Elizabeth Farren walking into a field of grasses and trees was not unique to Lawrence’s work. “The outdoor setting also serves artist and sitter well. It allowed Lawrence to display his skill in painting landscapes and encouraged honorific association to his female sitter with nature, thus assuaging a moral question attached to her career as an actress.” Because Elizabeth Farren was so careful about her chaste appearance, the natural setting would have distanced her image from the general association of the time of actresses with prostitution and overt sexuality.

Lawrence did encounter some criticism for his decision to portray Farren in a fur trimmed cape and muff, against a summer landscape.However, the incongruous pairing of winter accessories and a summer back-drop allowed for Lawrence to demonstrate his ability to juxtapose the textures of the lustrous white satin cape against the filmy white muslin, and the supple kid glove against the sensual fur muff.Most importantly, he was displaying fashionable clothing which would have identified Farren with the social elite, including the large fur muff, and the satin white cape with fur trim. The portrait of Melanie de Forbin-Gardanne, painted by Jean-Louis Le Barbier Le Jeune, in 1789, is another striking example of the fashion for white satin, trimmed with fur, during the time. (figure 4)

 

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figure 4

 

Generally, Lawrence’s mis-matched seasonal cues in Elizabeth Farren were ignored by contemporaries, in favor of its praise-worthy rendition of flesh and fabric. Most likely, Lawrence was amused and relieved by a poem which appeared in a prose book, by Thomas Bellamy:

On a Celebrated Picture

Of

Miss Farren

Incas’d in fur; as shrinking from the blast;

Midst scenes that glow with all that summer yields.

Where not a cloud the sky has overcast,

Where blooms the garden, smiles the distant fields

We know the Farren, by thy lovely face:

But sure the artist ought to shrew some cause

Why thus he sins against all truth and grace

Why thus he turns his back on nature’s laws.

Why thus, pale, shiv’ring on a summer’s day,

He paints Thalia’s child, all sportive fair and gay.

 

Moreover, the outdoor backdrops in Lawrence’s painting linked him to a larger aesthetic movement grounded in Neoclassicism, which extolled the Republican virtues of ancient Rome and the reign of Augustus, and was witnessed in late eighteenth century art, architecture and fashion. Neoclassicism allowed for English “to identify with the antique, with political liberty and civic virtue…What justified ‘civic’ classicism was its success in anchoring the principals of political liberty deep within in the nation’s culture, by way of the plastic arts in giving civic values visible form.”

Neoclassicism was further reinforced by the architecture and fashion of the by the discovery of the Greek ruins of Pompeii in 1748. The columnar white muslin dress which Elizabeth Farren wears in Lawrence’s painting is very much occupying popular fashion of 1790.

Beginning in the mid 1780s, the robe en chemise became favorable, after the fashion forward Queen Marie Antoinette was immortalized in a portrait by Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Le Brun, (painted in 1783), wearing the underwear-like garment (figure 5). Although the robe en chemise’s debut amongst privileged circles was shocking, it was quickly embraced by the fashionable elite. Soon, European royalty, like the Prussian princesses Friederike and Luise, and aristocrats, like Juliette de Recamier, were wearing simple white dresses made of muslin fabric. Furthermore, the simple white dress of the 1790s symbolically encapsulated the political climate of a post-Revolutionary France, along with the ideals of democracy and the Republic.

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figure 5

Neoclassicism was the prevailing aesthetic during the time in which Lawrence painted Elizabeth Farren, and the fashion for resembling Greek marble sculpture was in-line with aristocratic taste.  It was the gossamer sheerness and the soft drape-ability of cotton muslin which made it best-suited to these Greek-goddess-inspired fashions  Having the simple and elegant cotton muslin dress immortalized in portraiture would have been a constructive way of visually linking herself to the fashionably elite in society. Below are two fashion plates which illustrate the fashion for white dresses, coupled with the “hedge-hog” hair-do; Figure 6 is a fashion plate from Journal des Luxus und der Modern, July 1789, and Figure 7 is a fashion plate from the Magazine de Modes Nouvelles 1789.

 

images                                                                               figure 6  

unknown-5                                                                                   figure 7

 

Of course, the correspondence between the Greek-inspired white muslin dress in the 1790s, and the rejection of the ostentation and sexual excess of French court style was integral to Farren’s lifetime effort of maintaining her respectable and chaste image. “These neoclassical white, muslin dresses—worn by young and old, single and married women alike—signified English moral purity and industry (English cotton, not French silk).”The idea of moral purity was central to Farren’s daily conduct. She was well known for having her beloved mother as a constant chaperone, especially in the presence of her admirer and suitor, the twelfth earl of Derby. An acquaintance of Elizabeth was Joseph Farrington, who noted in his diary: “Lord Derby’s attachment to Elizabeth Farren is extraordinary. He sees her daily and always attends the plays when she performs….her mother is always with her….so careful is she of appearances.”

And Farren had good reason to keep up such appearances. She was involved in a painfully long engagement with the twelfth Earl of Derby, where she had to bide her time and wait for Derby’s estranged wife, Lady Elizabeth Hamilton— who was ill— to die. And, although it sounds heartless of Elizabeth to wait for Derby’s wife to perish, it was common knowledge that Derby’s wife had run off to live with another lover, the third Duke of Dorset, and that Derby had refused to divorce her. It wasn’t until 1797 that Elizabeth could unite with Derby in marriage.

Aside from associating herself with virginal, pure images, Farren swathed herself in volumes of white muslin, which draped from her body, as a means of shrouding what was widely considered to be her only shortcoming. During the eighteenth century, it was ideal to have a bit of plumpness to the body. Because of this ideal, her critics had this to say of her:

“Miss Farren was in the perfection of her charms; her figure was

 above the middle height, graceful and suited to the disposition

 of drapery which served to conceal her lack of plumpness which

was her only defect; her eyes were blue, she had a lovely mouth

 and a winning smile, her voice was sweet,” wrote one critic and

 another, “Her figure is of that slight texture which allows and

 requires the use of full and flowing drapery—an advantage of

which she knows well how to avail herself.”

 

Elizabeth was very sensitive about her body’s thin appearance, and in her attempt to maintain her public image, requested that Thomas Lawrence add some volume to her figure in his painting of her. Proof of this is found in a letter which Elizabeth wrote to Lawrence in 1792, in which she begs Lawrence to rework her portrait, given the embarrassment of having her friends tease her for her appearance in the painting, where she was ‘so thin….that you might blow it away.’Despite her attempts to alter her “only imperfection,” it has been revealed through modern X-rays and infra-red reflectography that the painting has never been altered. (figure 8)

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figure 8

Despite her inability to control every aspect of her public image, Elizabeth Farren was held in high regard amongst the upper crust of society. Her rise to fame and acceptance in high society attracted a few jealous gossips, but they had little fuel to run their rumor mill. With her respectability and gentility, Farren was able to override her profession’s dubious the connections to brothels and loose living, and model herself after the aristocracy. It was also helpful that during the late-nineteenth century there was a vogue for plays about high society, decency, and delicacy—plays in which she excelled in as women of noble breeding. She was so adept at playing ladies of high birth on the stage, that, soon, the boundaries between her image on the stage and her image off the stage became confused and obscured. When Elizabeth played Lady Emily Grayville, in Burgoyne’s play, The Heiress, in 1787, the critic Adolphus noted of her performance in the Morning Chronicle:

“[Farren] absolutely identified herself with this model of fashionable

excellence. In the female characters, every actress shone…but above

all, and to such a degree as to attract the separate thanks of the author,

Miss Farren displayed her characteristic excellencies in Lady Emily

Grayville. Where high and honorable sentiments, burning virtuous

sensibilities, sincere and uncontrollable affection, animated through

sportive reprehension, elegant persiflage, or arch pointed satire, were

 the aim of the author, Miss Farren amply filled out his thought and by

her exquisite representation made it, even when faint and feeble in itself,

 striking ad forcible. And these irresistible graces of her address and

manner, the polished beauties of action and gait, and all the indescribable

 little charms which give fascination to the woman of birth and fashion,

the power and inspiration of Miss Farren’s performance may in some

degree be appreciated. She had the feeling, judgement, grace and

discretion.”

 

The celebrity status and high visibility that the late eighteenth century actress had achieved meant that their personas would forever be linked to their costumes and characters. It is interesting to observe that Miss Farren’s highly regarded portrayals of refined ladies on the stage crossed-over into real life. (figure 9)Even amongst her many friends of high social standing, her grace, charm and respectability were notable. She regularly mixed and mingled with the “ton” at Richmond House, where she was praised for her joie de vivre. One of her acquaintances, Mrs. Matthews, said of her, “[She was] a fascinating woman….ladies of rank and character received and visited her on the most familiar terms of friendship and daily extended the circle of her distinguished friends.” Because she rubbed elbows with high society, it was even more important for her—a woman coming from a middle class background—to maintain her image as a fashionable lady of high status. The rather large fox fur muff in the portrait by Lawrence would have certainly sent a visual message to her contemporaries, outlining her ability to buy luxury goods and to display them.

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figure 9

If one observes the muff in the painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence, the bulbous shape, large size and appearance of softness is notable in the accoutrement. But, overly large muffs—like the one which appears in the painting— were at the height of fashion during the 1780s and 1790s, so it is not unusual to see Elizabeth Farren toting a muff of this size. There are several humorous satirical illustrations which appear around the time that Sir Thomas Lawrence painted Elizabeth Farren, in 1790, which confirm the rather ridiculous size of fur muffs in the last half of the eighteenth-century.

 

 

In 1787, Samuel William Fores published his satirical cartoon of a fashionable lady whose entire body has been engulfed by a gigantic fur muff (Figure 10.) Despite the fun which was poked at the large muff, it was readily used in late-eighteenth century portraiture to convey ideas about the fashionability or the sensuality of the sitter. Whether the fur muff was perceived as libidinous or proper in a portrait had much to do with the perceived respectability of the sitter, as Laura Engel explains through her comparison of two British actresses who were contemporaries of Elizabeth Farren: Sarah Siddons and Mary Robinson. Mary Robinson’s personal character was connected to her affairs with Charles Fox and Prime Minister North, as well as her bouts of erratic behavior.  Unlike Mary Robinson, Sarah Siddons had a reputation as a respectable woman, and her theatrical roles were often connected to mother or Queen figures. When Sarah Siddons posed for Thomas Gainsborough for a painting in 1785, her use of the muff in portraiture was perceived as a “stylish and elegant accessory designed to promote Siddons’ image as a woman of quality and grace, a celebrity worthy of admiration by respectable women.”

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figure 10

Like Siddons, Elizabeth Farren had a long-held reputation as a respectable woman, thus, the muff in the painting by Lawrence is used as a signifier for Farren’s role as a consumer and connects her to the fashionable elite of society. The social boundaries between the aristocracy and popular actress was further blurred by the fact that famous artists were painting both nobility and actresses, using the same techniques and iconography.  The work of Lawrence is no exception. One of the most telling indicators of a sitter’s status is her ability to consume and display luxury goods, like the luxurious fur trimmed, silk satin cape, or the voluminous fox fur muff which Lawrence makes central to his painting. “Lawrence aspired to fame as a portraitist within fashionable society, so a large percentage of his clients were women. In the late eighteenth century women in the upper and middle classes were charged with the burden and pleasure of consuming luxury goods such as high fashion and jewelry, and portraiture was a means for them to convey their fashionable taste.”

For Elizabeth Farren, having her portrait painted by a renowned artist, and displaying her ability to consume luxury items like furs was akin to an advertisement which transmitted ideas about her respectability as a lady and her inherent fashionable taste. Especially during the time of Elizabeth Farren’s career, which began in 1777 and ended in 1797, British actresses witnessed an “unprecedented conspicuousness in the public eye.” Elizabeth Farren had to carefully construct her public image because like luxury goods, her image was a highly consumable item. The diaphanous white muslin fabric of her gown, the silvery white satin of her cape and the richness of her fox fir trim and muff all act as visual signifiers of her status as a respectable lady of high social standing.

 

 

Bibliography and Further reading:

 

Agres, Philip. Classical Culture and the Idea of Rome in Eighteenth-Century England. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Albinson, Cassandra A. “The Construction of Desire: Lawrence’s Portraits of Women.” Sir Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Yale University Press, 2010.

Albinson, Cassandra, Peter Funnell and Lucy Peltz. Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010.

Berg, Maxine. Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Oxford University Press, 2007.

Bloxam, Suzanne. Walpole’s Queen of Comedy: Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby. Worcester: Billing and Sons Ltd, 1988.

Bradford, Isabella. “Big and Bigger Muffs: Reality Versus Caricature c. 1790,” Two Nerdy History Girls, (April 21, 2013) http://twonwrdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2013/04/big-bigger-muffs-reality-vs-caricature,html.

Brooks, Helen E.M. “Negotiating Marriage and Professional Autonomy in the Careers of Eighteenth-century Actresses.” In Eighteenth-century Life, 39-76. Kent: University of Kent Press, 2011.

Cole, Daniel James. “Hierarchy of Seduction in Regency Fashion.” Jane Austen Society of North America, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2012.

Conway, Alison. “Private Interests: The Portrait and the Novel in Eighteenth-Century England.” In Eighteenth-Century Life, 1-15. Kent: University of Kent, 1997.

Engel, Laura. Fashioning Celebrity: 18th-Century British Actresses and Strategies for Image Making. Ohio State University Press, 2011.

Engel, Laura. “The Muff Affair: Fashioning Celebrity in the Portraits of Late Eighteenth-Century British Actresses.” In Fashion Theory, Volume 13, Issue 3, 279-298. Berg: 2009.

Garlick, Kenneth. Sir Thomas Lawrence: A complete Catalogue of the Oil Paintings. New York: New York University Press, 1989.

Johnson, James William. “What was Neo-Classicism?” Journal of British Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1969. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Lubrich, Naomi. “The Little White Dress: Politics and Polyvalence in Revolutionary France.” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. 2015.

Maeder, Edward. An Elegant Art: Fashion and Fantasy in the Eighteenth Century. The Los Angeles Museum of Art, 1983.

Mannings, David. The British Face: A View of Portraiture, 1625-1850. London: P & D Colnaghi & Co., Ltd., 1986.

Oestreich, Kate Faber. “Fashioning Chastity: British Marriage Plots and the Tailoring of Desire, 1789-1928.” Dissertation. Ohio State University Press, 2008.

Perry, Gill and Michael Rossington. Femininity and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century Art and Culture. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.

Ribeiro, Aileen. The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750-1820. New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1995.

Ribeiro, Aileen. “Thoughts on Changing Attitudes to British Portraiture.” The British Face: A View of Portraiture 1625-1850. P & D Colnaghi & Co. Ltd., 1986.

Wahrman, Dror. The Making of the Modern Self: Identity and Culture in Eighteenth-Century England. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004.

Ylivuori, Soile. “Rethinking Female Chastity and Gentlewoman’s Honour in Eighteenth-Century England.” In The Historical Journal, 71-97. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

 

Adolphus, Morning Chronicle, January 11, 1786.

Bellamy, Thomas. Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, Vil.ii. 1795.

Hayes, John. “Gainsborough’s “Richmond Water –Walk.’” Burlington Magazine. January 1969.

Journal des Luxus und der Moden, July 1789.

Jeune , Jean-Louis Le Barbier Le. Melanie de Forbin-Gardanne. Ackland Museum, Chapel Hill, NC, 1789.

Magazine de Modes Nouvelles, 1789.

Romney, George.  Lady Anne de la Pole. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1786

“The Muff,” published by SW Fores, London, 1787. Copyright: the Trustees of the British Museum.

Vigee-Le Brun, Elisabeth-Louise Marie Antoinette. Private Collection of Heissische Hausstiftung. Germany, 1783.

[1] Elizabeth Farren, by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1790). Heilbrunn Timeline of Art and History, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

[2] Albinson, Cassandra A. “The Construction of Desire: Lawrence’s Portraits of Women.” Sir Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Yale University Press, 2010, 35.

[3] Albinson, Cassandra A. “The Construction of Desire: Lawrence’s Portraits of Women.” Sir Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Yale University Press, 2010, 32.

[4] Garlick, Kenneth. Sir Thomas Lawrence: A complete Catalogue of the Oil Paintings. New York: New York University Press, 1989, 11.

[5] Albinson, Cassandra A. “The Construction of Desire: Lawrence’s Portraits of Women.” Sir Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Yale University Press, 2010,35.

[6] Ibid. 31.

[7] Public Advisor, 30 April 1790.

[8] Albinson, Cassandra A. “The Construction of Desire: Lawrence’s Portraits of Women.” Sir Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Yale University Press, 2010, 35.

[9] Hayes, John. “Gainsborough’s “Richmond Water –Walk.’” Burlington Magazine. January 1969.31.

 

[10]Mannings, David. The British Face: A View of Portraiture, 1625-1850. London: P & D Colnaghi & Co., Ltd., 1986, 17.

[11] Ibid. 20.

[12] Garlick, Kenneth. Sir Thomas Lawrence: A complete Catalogue of the Oil Paintings. New York: New York University Press, 1989.

[13] Albinson, Cassandra A. “The Construction of Desire: Lawrence’s Portraits of Women.” Sir Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Yale University Press, 2010, 35.

[14] Bloxam, Suzanne. Walpole’s Queen of Comedy: Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby. Worcester: Billing and Sons Ltd, 1988, 119.

[15] Albinson, Cassandra A. “The Construction of Desire: Lawrence’s Portraits of Women.” Sir Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Yale University Press, 2010, 98.

[16] Aileen Ribeiro, The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750-1820. New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1995. 78-9

[17] Bellamy, Thomas. Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, Vil.ii. 1795. Cited in Bloxam, Suzanne. Walpole’s Queen of Comedy: Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby. Worcester: Billing and Sons Ltd, 1988, 119-120.

[18] Johnson, James William. “What was Neo-Classicism?” Journal of British Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1969. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 52.

[19] Agres, Philip. Classical Culture and the Idea of Rome in Eighteenth-Century England. Cambridge University Press, 1999, XIV.

[20] Cole, Daniel James. “Hierarchy and Seduction in Regency Fashion” Jane Austen Society of North America. Vol.33, No. 1, 2012. 3.

[21] Ibid. 4.

[22] Lubrich, Naomi. “The Little White Dress: Politics and Polyvalence in Revolutionary France.” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. 2015. 273.

[23] Cole, Daniel James. “Hierarchy and Seduction in Regency Fashion” Jane Austen Society of North America. Vol.33, No. 1, 2012. 4.

[24] Oestreich, Kate Faber. “Fashioning Chastity: British Marriage Plots and the Tailoring of Desire, 1789-1928.” Dissertation. Ohio State University Press, 2008, 57.

[25] Farrington, Joseph. Farington Diaries, Vol. 13. Royal Libraries, Windsor Castle, 803.

[26] Bloxam, Suzanne. Walpole’s Queen of Comedy: Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby. Worcester: Billing and Sons Ltd, 1988, 67.

[27] Ibid., 61.

[28] Albinson, Cassandra, Peter Funnell and Lucy Peltz. Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010, 101.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Bloxam, Suzanne. Walpole’s Queen of Comedy: Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby. Worcester: Billing and Sons Ltd, 1988, 112.

[31]Ibid., 68.

[32] Ibid., 50.

[33] Adolphus, Morning Chronicle, January 11, 1786. Cited in Bloxam, Suzanne. Walpole’s Queen of Comedy: Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby. Worcester: Billing and Sons Ltd, 1988, 76.

[34] Engel, Laura. Fashioning Celebrity: 18th-Century British Actresses and Strategies for Image Making. Ohio State University Press, 2011, 20.

[35] Bloxam, Suzanne. Walpole’s Queen of Comedy: Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby. Worcester: Billing and Sons Ltd, 1988, 73.

[36] Engel, Laura. “The Muff Affair: Fashioning Celebrity in the Portraits of Late Eighteenth-Century British Actresses.” In Fashion Theory, Volume 13, Issue 3, 279-298. Berg: 2009, 279.

[37] Bradford, Isabella. “Big and Bigger Muffs: Reality Versus Caricature c. 1790,” Two Nerdy History Girls, (April 21, 2013) http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2013/04/big-bigger-muffs-reality-vs-caricature.html

[38] “The Muff,” published by SW Fores, London, 1787. Copyright: the Trustees of the British Museum.

[39] Engel, Laura. Fashioning Celebrity: 18th-Century British Actresses and Strategies for Image Making. Ohio State University Press, 2011, 72.

[40] Engel, Laura. “The Muff Affair: Fashioning Celebrity in the Portraits of Late Eighteenth-Century British Actresses.” In Fashion Theory, Volume 13, Issue 3, 279-298. Berg: 2009, 288-28.

[41] Engel, Laura. Fashioning Celebrity: 18th-Century British Actresses and Strategies for Image Making. Ohio State University Press, 2011, 27.

[42]Ibid., 17.

[43] Albinson, Cassandra, Peter Funnell and Lucy Peltz. Sir Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Yale University Press, 2010, 30.

[44] Asleson, Robyn. Notorious Muse: The Actress in British Art and Culture, 1776-1812. New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 2003, 1.

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La Sapeurs: Dandies of the Congo

After the dust of WWII had settled, Congolese soldiers brought Parisian fashions back to the Congo. This is a great example of the cultural exchange which occurs during wartime. As deplorable and devastating as war is, it does act as a vehicle for ideas, food and….fashion! It’s interesting to see how the poverty stricken regions of the Congo have acted as a natural preserve for dandy fashion.

The pride of the “la sape” (translates to “society of Ambianceurs and elegant people”) is wholly apparent, and the style of these gentlemen is undeniable. Note the confidence, the swagger, the elegance of these Sapeurs, in comparison to their dull, impoverished environment. In the midst of a dog-eared world, these Congolese dandies shine like stars– and they know it!

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