Ghost
Mourning dress by Amédée François, ca 1880 France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mourning dress by Amédée François, ca 1880 France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(Source: metmuseum.org)

Mourning ensemble, ca 1870 US, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Black mourning dress reached its peak during the reign of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of the United Kingdom in the second half of the 19th century. Queen Victoria wore mourning from the death of her husband, Prince Albert (1819-1861), until her own death. With these standards in place, it was considered a social requisite to don black from anywhere between three months to two and a half years while grieving for a loved one or monarch. The stringent social custom existed for all classes and was available at all price points. Those who could not afford the change of dress often altered and dyed their regular garments black. The amount of black to be worn was dictated by several different phases of mourning; full mourning ensembles were solid black while half mourning allowed the wearer to add a small amount of white or purple. Mourning clothing tended to follow the fashionable silhouette of the period, much like this exquisitely finished full mourning dress. This dress shows typical high style 1870s touches such as asymmetry, the bustle back and decorative hem details. The refined details are worked in black crinkled crepe, a common textile used for mourning attire, which indicates that the owner may have had the garment produced for a special occasion.

Mourning ensemble, ca 1870 US, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Black mourning dress reached its peak during the reign of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of the United Kingdom in the second half of the 19th century. Queen Victoria wore mourning from the death of her husband, Prince Albert (1819-1861), until her own death. With these standards in place, it was considered a social requisite to don black from anywhere between three months to two and a half years while grieving for a loved one or monarch. The stringent social custom existed for all classes and was available at all price points. Those who could not afford the change of dress often altered and dyed their regular garments black. The amount of black to be worn was dictated by several different phases of mourning; full mourning ensembles were solid black while half mourning allowed the wearer to add a small amount of white or purple. Mourning clothing tended to follow the fashionable silhouette of the period, much like this exquisitely finished full mourning dress. This dress shows typical high style 1870s touches such as asymmetry, the bustle back and decorative hem details. The refined details are worked in black crinkled crepe, a common textile used for mourning attire, which indicates that the owner may have had the garment produced for a special occasion.

(Source: metmuseum.org)

Summer by John Atkinson Grimshaw, 1875, private collection
It feels like summer (or spring, I guess) here in Charlotte…It was 73 today but it was in the 20’s on Friday so people are feeling lousy due to the dramatic change in the weather.

Summer by John Atkinson Grimshaw, 1875, private collection

It feels like summer (or spring, I guess) here in Charlotte…It was 73 today but it was in the 20’s on Friday so people are feeling lousy due to the dramatic change in the weather.

(Source: the-athenaeum.org)

Mourning necklace, 1875-1900, McCord Museum

Perhaps surprisingly, mourning became an occasion for increased consumption. It might seem much more natural to expect that the grief associated with the death of a loved one would result in indifference to any form of consumption. But such was not the case in Victorian Canada. Paradoxically this deeply private time gave rise to eminently public rituals. Death imposed a number of rules, the most important of which specified the details of permitted activities and dress. To abide by the constraints of deep mourning, mourning and half-mourning, for example, a widow had to have dresses, shawls, bonnets, gloves, handkerchiefs and underwear in strictly codified colours. For many months, only black jet jewellery was allowed. To those who followed the codes, mourning was a time of heavy spending.
What
This heavy necklace with a gothic cross and medallions decorated with small flowers, probably pansies, is designed for mourning. It is made of a synthetic material imitating jet, a black stone.

Where
Jet is a precious stone found in abundance near Whitby, England. In the Victorian era, the town had many manufacturers of jet jewellery.

When
According to the rules of mourning, no jewellery was to be worn in deep mourning, the length of which depended on the degree of relationship to the deceased. Next came mourning, during which only jet was permitted, followed by half-mourning, when either jet or gold could be worn.

Who
The owner of this necklace, who is unknown, was expressing her taste for the gothic, a style much in vogue in the 19th century. She also showed her very Victorian knowledge of the symbolic language of flowers, in which pansies represent thoughts.

Mourning necklace, 1875-1900, McCord Museum

Perhaps surprisingly, mourning became an occasion for increased consumption. It might seem much more natural to expect that the grief associated with the death of a loved one would result in indifference to any form of consumption. But such was not the case in Victorian Canada. Paradoxically this deeply private time gave rise to eminently public rituals. Death imposed a number of rules, the most important of which specified the details of permitted activities and dress. To abide by the constraints of deep mourning, mourning and half-mourning, for example, a widow had to have dresses, shawls, bonnets, gloves, handkerchiefs and underwear in strictly codified colours. For many months, only black jet jewellery was allowed. To those who followed the codes, mourning was a time of heavy spending.

  • What

    This heavy necklace with a gothic cross and medallions decorated with small flowers, probably pansies, is designed for mourning. It is made of a synthetic material imitating jet, a black stone.

  • Where

    Jet is a precious stone found in abundance near Whitby, England. In the Victorian era, the town had many manufacturers of jet jewellery.

  • When

    According to the rules of mourning, no jewellery was to be worn in deep mourning, the length of which depended on the degree of relationship to the deceased. Next came mourning, during which only jet was permitted, followed by half-mourning, when either jet or gold could be worn.

  • Who

    The owner of this necklace, who is unknown, was expressing her taste for the gothic, a style much in vogue in the 19th century. She also showed her very Victorian knowledge of the symbolic language of flowers, in which pansies represent thoughts.

(Source: mccord-museum.qc.ca)

Half bonnet of green velvet, ca 1870 US, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

A half bonnet of green velvet, front edge with point in center, covered with gathered matching velvet, rosette bow of green satin ribbon on top, two sets of ties, one green satin, one green velvet.

Half bonnet of green velvet, ca 1870 US, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

A half bonnet of green velvet, front edge with point in center, covered with gathered matching velvet, rosette bow of green satin ribbon on top, two sets of ties, one green satin, one green velvet.

Bonnet, ca 1880 New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Purple velvet bonnet trimmed with purple and light lavender ostrich feathers.

Bonnet, ca 1880 New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Purple velvet bonnet trimmed with purple and light lavender ostrich feathers.

A Treat for her Pet by Guillaume Dubufe, 1871 France, private collection
I really want a bird but I’ll never have one because I’ll always have a cat. :(

A Treat for her Pet by Guillaume Dubufe, 1871 France, private collection

I really want a bird but I’ll never have one because I’ll always have a cat. :(

La Soirée by Jean Béraud, ca 1880 France, Musée Carnavalet

La Soirée by Jean Béraud, ca 1880 France, Musée Carnavalet

January fancy dress, 1877 France, Journal des Demoiselles et Petit Courrier des Dames Réunis

January fancy dress, 1877 France, Journal des Demoiselles et Petit Courrier des Dames Réunis

Promenade dress, ca 1875
Click to go to the absentee bidding page.  This Kerry Taylor auction will end October 16th at 2:00 PM GMT (9:00 AM EST).  You will need to register to bid ahead of time.

Promenade dress, ca 1875

Click to go to the absentee bidding page.  This Kerry Taylor auction will end October 16th at 2:00 PM GMT (9:00 AM EST).  You will need to register to bid ahead of time.

Men’s livery, ca 1870 France
Click to go to the absentee bidding page.  This Kerry Taylor auction will end October 16th at 2:00 PM GMT (9:00 AM EST).  You will need to register to bid ahead of time.

Men’s livery, ca 1870 France

Click to go to the absentee bidding page.  This Kerry Taylor auction will end October 16th at 2:00 PM GMT (9:00 AM EST).  You will need to register to bid ahead of time.

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