[an error occurred while processing this directive]


Picture of the Month




dated 1708, located in the Louvre

I'm frightfully sorry that I couldn't update the "picture of the month" any sooner than this. Being a pessimist (i.e. an optimist with experience), I'll treat this as a two-month picture for July and August. I have selected this one because this year is the 300th anniversary of the famous battle of Blenheim and of the town of Ludwigsburg. Re-enactors of the c. 1700 period have difficulties finding documentation because there are very few pictures of clothes from that period, and most of those are upper class. This one is especially interesting because it shows people from behind, which is rare in any period.

The woman to the left of above painting seems to be a servant: She wars a jacket rather than robe, an apron, a simple lappet cap and a neckerchief. The way she is turned towards the child, with a hand out to guide it, suggests that she is a nanny. The make-up of her jacket is similar to that of a robe of the same period: one pleat from each side towards the centre back and one slanted pleat towards the sides. Well, you can't really see in the painting which way the pleats face, but if you take into account that servants of later decades wore sack-back jackets - shorter versions of the robe à la française - it seems only logical that this one is wearing a shorter version of the robe of her period, the mantua. However, mantuas usually had two pleats facing outwards, as you can see on the lady in black. Another interesting difference is the parted, two-tip basque in back. There seems to be some kind of border along the hem, but nothing fancy - maybe made of the jacket fabric, or just two pleats parallel to the hem. The sleeves are much longer than is usual in a mantua: Almost down to the wrist.

On the other hand, the lady in black also has rather long sleeves. That may have been the fashion at that time, or maybe that's only because she is in mourning. No, I don't know that she is in mourning, but there is not a speck of colour on her and her head is bowed quite deeply. Note how the sleeves have multiple pleats running down them - typical of the period and way into the 1720s. This is also seen on very early robes à la française. The sleeves seem to go way up onto the shoulder and under the outermost back pleat. The tail of the mantua is piled up high at waist/hip height rather than flowing down as would have been the case only 10 years earlier. Her fontange, the low and wide variety worn in the last years before it died out, is covered with a black veil that is pleated around the back of the neck to form a kind of hood. This veil can be seen in other pictures of the same period and appears to have been part of street wear.

The child wears a high fontange, i.e. an earlier style. Ther mantua - if that is what she wears - is interested because apparently the bodice is a different colur from the skirt. It may be that the skirt is lined with red fabric which is turned outwards because of the skirt being gathered up in back, but then I'd expect to see some green since the trains used to fold back and forth, showing both sides of the fabric.

The sleeve cuffs of the left man are much smaller than I would expect that early in the 18th century. His Justaucorps is quite short: not even knee length if he stood up. There must be a side vent for the sword to stick out like that, then two places where the skirt is pleated, and a back vent. The later suits that I know the patterns of have no side vent and only one cluster of pleats where the front/side part meets the back part. To get a side vent and two pleat clusters, you would have to make the suit out of one front part, one side, one side-back and one back part. Unfortunately the painter neglected to paint any seam lines.


Pictures of the month archive

  [an error occurred while processing this directive]