Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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The Williamson Family by John Mix Stanley, 1841-42 US (New York?), the Metropolitan Museum of Art
I think the child is a boy, but I’m not entirely sure. The clothes and hair are awfully feminine, but that toy horse is damning. Tough one.
John and Louisa Stock by Joseph Whiting Stock, 1845 US (Massachusetts), the Metropolitan Museum of Art
When the Museum acquired this portrait, the sitters were mistakenly identified as the artist’s children; however, Stock, a paraplegic injured in an accident when he was eleven years old, never married. He painted only five portraits of this size before 1846, when his diary entries cease. One such canvas, almost certainly this one, depicted “John & Louisa Stock in group.” The children are thought to be those of the artist’s younger brother Isaac C. Stock and his wife Sarah Hunt Stock of Springfield, Massachusetts. The 1850 census for that city gives the ages of John (born ca. 1838) and Louisa (born ca. 1840), who, it can be deduced, would have been seven and five, respectively, when this work was painted. The family moved between Springfield and Boston before settling in New Haven in 1852. Little is known of the children, other than that John was listed intermittently in the city directories as a messenger for Adams Express, a baker, and a clerk. Stock’s meticulous attention to decorative pattern and detail make the work a document of nineteenth-century dress and furnishings. His somewhat awkward, untutored drawing is compensated for by his appealing characterization of the sitters.
The Raymond Children by Robert Peckham, ca 1838 US (Massachusetts), the Metropolitan Museum of Art
These both appear to be boys, even if the boy on the right is portrayed a little unconventionally. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen portraits where a boy is holding a doll.
"A PRESENT FOR JOSEPH" is written on the mug in the background.
Hat from JW Robinson Co, ca 1917 US (Los Angeles), FIDM Museum & Galleries
Day dress from Harvey Nichols, ca 1916 London, FIDM Museum & Galleries
JW Robinson Co (usually called “Robinson’s) was a department store chain headquartered in Los Angeles, with locations across Southern California, Arizona and the Gulf Coast of Florida. It was founded in 1881 and closed in 1991.
Harvey Nichols is a department store chain with locations in London, Leeds, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Dublin, Riyadh, Kuwait and Hong Kong. The company was founded by Benjamin Harvey in 1831 as a linen store. When he died the shop was passed on to his daughter, who entered into a partnership with Colonel Nichols, who sold luxury items such as oriental rugs and silk. The current London flagship was opened in 1880 and added on to in 1932. I don’t think they sell dresses like this today, but they totally should.
I found this website while searching for pioneer clothing: Fibers of Function. They have a page with bits from the diaries of people (mostly women) going west on the Oregon Trail which mention clothing.
I particularly like this one from the diary of Helen Carpenter:
June 19, 1857
Six days past Fort Kearney, seven to Courthouse Rock
… There is a bride and groom in the Inmann party. The bride wears hoops. We have read of hoops being worn, but they had not reached Kansas before we left so these are the first we have seen and would not recommend them for this mode of traveling. The wearer has less personal privacy than the Pawnee in his blanket. In asides the bride is called “Miss Hoopy.” Fairly good grass in camp and willows for wood.
All of her entries were fun to read, actually. She seems to have been from a rather well off family, or else she just made a particularly comfortable trip.