Archive for August, 2006

Describing the exquisite Regency gowns in its collection, The Museum of Costume & Assembly Rooms, Bath: The Official Guide states on p 32:

“These simple, light gowns were inspired by the neo-classical taste and were intended to imitate the draperies of ancient Greek and Roman statues. Muslin was an ideal dress fabric because it was soft and almost transparent, gently outlining the natural contours of the figure. It could also be washed easily (unlike silk) which made the fashion for white possible.”

View ravishing details of my favorite regency gown, which is for sale (click on dress in link and scroll down): Directoire silk gauze dress, c.1805. Fashioned from gossamer silk gauze woven with the Neoclassical stripes then popular. The draped folds and lace appliqués on the short puffed sleeves show masterful design. A rare fancy period dress with the original trim.

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Art from the Regency and Georgian period in England was lush, luscious, delectable, creamy, and so mouthwatering that you just want to look AND touch. View a cornocupia of visual feasts on the following sites:

Prinny’s Paintings
English School of Painting
English Painting 1800-1900
Neoclassicism:The Classical Ideal
Neoclassicism: A Link of Artists
History of English Watercolour Paintings
J.M.W. Turner
The Neoclassical Temple
Jean Nattes Prints of Bath

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The Mirror of Graces, written by a Lady of Distinction in 1811, is a first-hand source that describes the dress and manners of ladies during the Regency Period. Some speculate that the book was written by a governess or lady’s companion who was a close observer of the upper classes, but not a member of it.

Here is her observation on “the detail of dress.”

The mantle, or cottage-cloak, should never be worn by females exceeding a moderate en bon point; and we should recommend their winter garbs, such as Russian pelisses and Turkish wraps, to be formed of double sarsenet, or fine Merina cloth, rather than velvets, which (except black) give an appearance of increased size to the wearer. In the adoption of furs, flat-ermine or fringe fur is better suited to the full-formed woman than swan’s down, fox, chinchilli, or sable; these are graceful for the more slender. Women of spare habit, and of a tall and elegant height, will derive considerable advantage from the full-flowing robe, mantle, and Roman tunic. The fur trimming, too, gives to them an appearance of roundness, which nature has denied;and to this description of person we can scarcely recommend an evending-dress more chaste, elegant and advantageous, than robes of white satin trimmed with swan’s-down, with draperies of silver or gossamer net.”

Find a listing of fabric and cloth on the Phrontistery site:

This is a rather odd category, listing 269 names of kinds of fabric and cloth. There is an enormous variety in fabrics, with many different national, historical and regional varieties. It is interesting to note, however, that almost all of the types of fabric listed below are variants or blends of just five basic fabric types (silk, cotton, linen, wool and worsted).”

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View the updated version of this post here.

John Nash’s buildings exemplified the neoclassical style of early 19th Century Architecture. His sweeping changes transformed London, from the graceful curve of Regent Street to the majestic terraces and vistas in Regent’s Park.

View some of his edifices below:

1. Regent’s Park
2. Regent Street
3. Buckingham Palace

We will devote an entire section to Brighton Palace later.

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The London Season began with the sitting of Parliament after Christmas and ended in mid-June, when the Ton deserted London in droves for their country estates in order to escape the summer’s stifling heat and the city’s pungent smells.

During the height of the social whirl, attendance at parties, balls, routs, and the theatre shot up as proud Papas and Mamas strutted their white-gowned, virginal daughters in front of a host of eligible men, some longer in the tooth than others.

“We have already seen that as early as the 1730’s and 40’s many of the residents in the principal streets of the Grosvenor estate, and of course many more in other correspondingly fashionable parts of London, only spent part of each year in town, their seasonal movements being prescribed by those of the Court and by the dates of the parliamentary sessions. In the eighteenth century the number of people participating in this fashionable minuet between town and country cannot be even approximately calculated, but in the nineteenth century detailed information about the London Season was published for many years in The Morning Post, and this has been analysed for the year 1841.”

From: ‘The Social Character of the Estate: The London Season in 1841’, Survey of London: volume 39: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 1 (General History) (1977), pp. 89-93. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=41842. Date accessed: 30 August 2006.

Wikipedia adds more insights about The Season.

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Beeton’s Book of Household Management

The full title of this book is: The Book of Household Management: Comprising Information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and under house-maids, Lady’s-maid, Maid-of-all-work, Laundry-maid, Nurse and nurse-maid, Monthly, wet, and sick nurses, etc. etc. also, sanitary, medical, & legal memoranda;with a history of the origin, properties, and uses of all things connected with home life and comfort.

Yes, this original source, available for free online, was written during the Victorian era, but the gems of knowledge contained within its pages help to illuminate the daily tasks and duties of the British wife and hostess. Written by Mrs. Isabella Beeton and originally published by her husband, S. O. Beeton (in 24 monthly parts, 1859–1861) this book provides matchless insights, such as those contained in the following excerpt:

“AFTER-DINNER INVITATIONS MAY BE GIVEN; by which we wish to be understood, invitations for the evening. The time of the arrival of these visitors will vary according to their engagements, or sometimes will be varied in obedience to the caprices of fashion. Guests invited for the evening are, however, generally considered at liberty to arrive whenever it will best suit themselves,—usually between nine and twelve, unless earlier hours are specifically named. By this arrangement, many fashionable people and others, who have numerous engagements to fulfil, often contrive to make their appearance at two or three parties in the course of one evening.”

Learn more about this book and Mrs. Beeton, who died at 30 after giving birth to her 4th child, in Wikipedia.

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The Science and Society Picture Library is filled with magnificent illustrations and photographs of interest to historians. This link leads to these images, including carriages, cabriolets, phaotons, landaus, and more. Type the name of the vehicle you are searching for in the search bar, such as landeau or phaeton or barouche. Corresponding images will pop up.

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