Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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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 dress by Amédée François, ca 1880 France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
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 parasol, 1895-1900 US, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
A beautiful as well as large parasol, it is decidedly for mourning. This fact is evidenced by the hidden mourning crepe found in the middle layer between the taffeta and the densely ruched mousseline de soie. The handle is also extremely refined.
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.
Half-mourning dress by W G Jay & Co, 1883-84 London, Manchester Art Gallery
Half-mourning dress (?) Pale grey satin trimmed with black figured and black corded silk and white net. Two piece.
Bodice lined with cream twilled silk. Low square-cut neck. Fastening at centre front with embroidered buttons. Neck trimmed with band and double frill of net. Sleeves shaped to wrist, trimmed with frill of net. Separate skirt lined with stiffened cotton, fastening left back. Hem cut in triangles. Train at back. Lace muslin frill. Tapes and ties at back to form bustle.
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.
Cabinet photograph by Evelyn & James, 1885 Wandsworth (London), Manchester Art Gallery
Full length portrait of a seated woman in mourning dress. Plain interior backdrop with a table to the left with a fur throw and a black dog. The woman wears her hair in a chignon with a brimless straw hat with a velvet band and bow. She is wearing a black wool and crepe dress with a fitted bodice with centre front buttons extending to a point and full length fitted sleeves with crepe cuffs. The bodice of her dress is made up of crepe with a bolero style front and a high standing collar. She has a bustle and her skirt is made up of crepe inserts and black silk.
Written on reverse in pencil “Mary Le Neve Foster / 1885 - or 1886 / In Mourning dress for her mother”
Carte-de-visite photograph by Maull & Co, 1864 London, Manchester Art Gallery
Full length studio portrait of a woman in mourning sitting beside a table. She is wearing a day dress, skirt has an embroidered pattern set at regular intervals, patterned band runs around skirt just below the knee, large lace net hem with scalloped edging, bodice has similar patterned band across the shoulders and bust, upper part of the bodice is quilted with vertical strips, patterned band also runs down the trumpet sleeves, white undersleeves, white lace collar, she has a black lace shawl over one arm. Drawing room backdrop with drape.
EDIT: I don’t think this woman is in mourning. Not really sure where that information is coming from.