Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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ca. 1840-1860, [daguerreotype portrait of a dramatically posed lady in an elaborate dress, possibly Scottish, with a star pattern, tartan sash and hat]
Wow! A super rare look at shoes from the time.
Mourning evening slippers by Melnotte, 1845-65 France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tiny black slippers were de rigueur in the fashionable mid-Victorian lady’s wardrobe. Black shoes were felt to go with anything, hence the most versatile and dependable choice of footwear to have on hand. Slippers of this type are most commonly found in satin, so the faille fabric of this unworn pair is unusual. It is possible that the shoes were intended for mourning, when a dull-surfaced fabric was desired. The interesting label of the London vendor - written largely in French, noting the firm as exclusive agent, and mentioning the added stock of Parisian gloves, perfumes, and novelties - demonstrates the importance of imported French shoes and accessories in the contemporary market.
Mourning poke bonnet, ca 1840 US, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The style of the poke bonnet manifests the demure and modest style that followed the young Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne in 1838. This severe all-black example was probably worn for mourning, a long-standing custom that the Queen elevated to a social institution, especially after the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert.
Mourning bracelet, 1840-60, McCord Museum
Jewellery made from hair was very popular in the mid-19th century.
Symbols of life, hair has long been associated in many societies with funeral rituals. This piece of mourning jewellery, worn during this period in memory of the deceased, was a reminder of the inevitability of death. However its price, sometimes high, also made it a symbol of social status.
When the hair was that of a friend or living relative, the piece of jewelry was worn as a token of esteem. This one, however, was no doubt made from the hair of a deceased person and worn in his or her memory. Such jewelry was not acceptable during the period of deep mourning, when only jet accessories were permitted.
Hair is a material that can be braided, woven, sown, knotted and coiled to produce all kinds of shapes and patterns. Horsehair was also used for this type of jewelry.
Not all hair jewelry was made by jewellers. Magazines explained to their readers how to make it at home.
This kind of jewelry had existed in Europe since the late 17th century.
Bracelets, necklaces, earrings and watch chains were made of both men’s hair and women’s hair.
Throwing Off Her Weeds by Richard Redgrave, 1846 UK, the Victoria & Albert Museum
A young widow is impatient to discard her black mourning clothes (known as widow’s weeds) because she has plans to marry again. The seamstress is showing her a lilac-coloured dress, a colour considered appropriate for a woman in the last phase of mourning. At this time, the mourning period for a husband was expected to be at least two years.
Originally the picture included a figure of a soldier, the widow’s new suitor, entering through the doorway. Critics thought this was vulgar, and Redgrave painted the figure out, but he kept a number of other visual clues to suggest that the woman is soon to be married again: there is a bridal bonnet in the hat-box in the foreground, and a sprig of orange blossom (a flower which was usually worn or carried at weddings) on the dressing table.
Doll’s bonnet, ca 1840 France, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Doll’s bonnet of dark blue satin faced with yellow taffeta with light blue ribbon ties, trimmed on top with wreath of artificial flowers, dark blue velvet ribbon, and blonde lace.
Bonnet by A Partridge & Co, ca 1840 Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
White silk bonnet, trimmed with net and lace in zig-zag pattern around edges, with pink silk ribbon arranged inside and forming ties. Label: “A Partridge and Co./Mode de Paris, 201 Washington St., Boston.”