Sunday 27 October 2013

Mantau research redux

The more you research, the more you learn of how little we know. After yesterday’s post I had a discussion with a couple of friends and I learned two nuggets that I feel that I have to share with you as soon as possible.

First, Anéa has posted several of her own photos of the Norwegian mantua, with additional information on her Livejournal.

The Shrewsbury mantua
The Valdemar mantua
Second, the Valdemar Castle gown DOES have a pattern! It can be found in a Danish book, Moden i 1700-årene, fra 1690 till 1790 by Ellen Andersen, published in 1977. I’m sure that you understand why it makes me exited. This means that there are patterns for three early mantuas! I was given a photocopy of that book years ago from a friend and I have always assumed I got all of the patterns, but I hadn’t. It also highlights how unknown costume research remains when it isn’t translated to English. I have yet to se the pattern, but I have been informed that even though it has pleated sleeves that look similar to the Shrewsbury mantua, they are set in sleeves and not cut with the rest of the gown as that one is. I find it very interesting that three gowns that are of the same type and also in  such a narrow time frame, 1690-1710, seems to be quite different from each other. I look forward to have all three patterns for a better comparison.
The Kimberley mantua


Saturday 26 October 2013

Researching the early mantua

Recueil des modes de la cour de France, 'Dame de Qualité en Manteau'
by Nicholas Bonnart, 1682-1686
My mantua dreams are not new, but they have been on hold for quite some time. Now when I have worked myself through more than halfway of my historical UFO-pile, I feel that I can start dreaming again. And planning and researching! I want to make a 17th century one, so this post is about the development of the mantua up to around 1720.

The mantua appears in the late 17th, a loose gown that is pleated to fit the body and with a split skirt that is folded back to reveal the lining or wrong side of the fabric. Formal gowns of the time had boned and rigid bodices and even if the mantua were worn over stays, the folds gave it a fluid and less formal appeance. In the 18th century the mantua developed into three directions. In England it turned into the ultra formal court mantua, which the English prefeered over the Robe de Cour. It also evolved into the Robe Anglasie, first with the folds sewn down, but later the folds disappeared into seams and the bodice and skirt got separated. In France it turned into the Robe Battante or Volante, allowing the pleats to hange freely, and then into the Robe Francasie with its fitted front and loose back pleats. When, in the late 18th century the Anglaise and Francasie married into the Robe Piemontaise we get a gown which is quite far from its great-grandparent the mantua.

There are few extant mantuas from this early period and even fewer seems to have been researched to any great length. To my knowledge there are only three which have had their pattern taken.

The earliestt mantua I have seen depicted is from 1672 and is indeed a very informal painting of the artist's children, but the mantua is still quite lavish. It has two typical characteristics of the early mantua, very short sleevs and the skirt is folded back well below the  hips. Although it can't be seen here, it probably also had a closed front. Mantuas worn by the upper classes always seems to have had a train.
The artist's daughter combing her brother by Claude Lefebvre, 1672

In the 1680's the sleeves remained quite short, but the skirt is folded back atop of the hips. Stripes were very popular and the mantua could both match or contrast with the petticoat. There were also a rather wide array in how the petticoat was decorated.
A collection of mantuas from Recueil des modes de la cour de France, 1670-1693.
A mantua and petticoat in both different colours and patterns, the petticoat trimmed with either a fringe or a flounce.
Matching mantua and petticoat, decorated with gold galoons and red bows.
Three striped mantuas where the direction of the stripes are used for different effects.

Blue mantua and petticoat decorated with dots, the petticoat decorated with three flounces.

Mantuas were worn by the lower classes as well. They were shorter and the skirt didn't have to be bunched up over the hips. In fact, it is very easy to see how it evolved into the Robe Anglaise from these pictures. All comes from The Cryes of the City of London Drawne after the Life, from around 1688.

There was a fad in the late 17th century to be painted informally dressed in what was called a nighgown, gowns worn without stays and in reality not worn outside the home. Unfortunately that means that it is quite rare with portraits of women wearing mantuas from the 17th century.

Eléonore Desmier d’Olbreuse, ca 1680
In the 1690's the sleeves started to grow longer and it became more and more common that the front opened over a stomacher. Petticoats sometimes had a very deep flounce. Originally the neckline showed quite a bit of the shoulders and were rather triangular, now it grow squarer and closer to the neck.

The so called Kimberley gown may be the oldest mantua still around. It may look a bit drab, being made of taupe wool with woven strips. But it is also heavily embroidered with silver gilt and it must have sparkled very prettily when it was worn. When it was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum in 1937 it had an open front and the petticoat had a waistband. It has now been restored back to a closed front and the petticoat now has a draw-string. It has been dated to 1690-1695, mainly due to the longer sleeves and the embroidery design. A pattern for this mantua can be found in Norah Waugh's The Cut of Women's Clothes: 1600-1930. Her pattern is pre-reconstruction and she dates it to 1700.  Here are links to pdf articles about the gown.

Mantua in striped wool with silver gilt embroidery, 1690-1695

Mary II, engraving by John Smith after a painting by Jan van der Vaardt
The Kimberley gown may have a contender when it comes to age in the Valdemar Castle gown from Denmark, which is dated to 1695-1700. The information about this gown is very scant, but you can read more about it in Anéa's article about it, here. EDITED: There is a pattern of this gown, which can be found in Ellen Andersen's Moden i 1700-årene, fra 1690 till 1790 from 1977.

Eleanor James, 1690-1700
Portrait of the Marchioness Angela Maria Lombardi, ca 1700

A midnight blue mantua from ca. 1700, gorgeously embroidered in gold. So beautiful and clearly designed to be worn over a stomacher.

Mantua in silk with gold embroidery, ca. 1700

An extant mantua that seems to be virtually unknown is the one on the effigy of Frances Stuart in Westminster Abbey. It is said to be wearing her coronation robe, presumably for Queen Anne's coronation in April, 1702. Frances herself died in October he same year, A picture of the front can be found here.
Funeral Effigy of Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox
The style is quite similar to this one.
Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Somerset with her son Algernon, by John Closterman, ca.. 1692

A salmon pink mantua with a petticoat with two flounces, which gives it a wider siloutte. Paniers weren't in vogue yet, but there is a trend toward a fuller skirt profile. I'm uncertain if the stomacher is original or not. The style is different, it is quilted and embroidered, but the colours  matches the mantua very well.

Mantua in silk brocade, ca. 1708

The Shrewsbury mantua has lost both stomacher and petticoat, unforunately. The pattern can be found in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1 and differs quite a lot from the Kimberley mantua. The former consists of separate front and back pieces with set in sleeves, while this one is made from a continous length of fabric with a kind of kimono sleeve. The sleeves look similar to the Valdemar Castle gown with its tight pleating, but those are set in sleeves.. Arnold has also written a longer article of this gown for the journal "Costume", Volume 4, Number 1, 1970, which can be purchased here. Personally I find £15 a bit steep for one article, though.

Mantua in green silk brocade, ca. 1710

In the 1720's the skirts gets wider still.

Mantua in silver brocaded pale blue silk, ca. 1720

A Norwegian mantua with very little information and small picture. EDITED: Anéa has posted more photos and information at her Livejournal.

Mantua in silk, ca. 1720
There is also a mantua at Nordiska museet in Sweden, but unfortunately there is no more information about it than this black and white picture from a book several years out of print.
EDIT: Some addtional information in a later blog post.
I could go on posting mantuas as they were worn for a couple of more decades, but as we are quickly moving away from the style of mantua I want to make, I will finish with this recently restored mantua in Lincolnshire. It is made from Spitafield silk dated to 1737. More information can be found here, here and a pdf article here.

Friday 18 October 2013

New page

If you look up, you will see a new permanent page, Looking for the 17th century. It's a collection of 17th century-related links. When I write this, there are only links to my own posts, but I will add other interesting links by the by. If you think something is missing, feel free to give me a tip. J

Frans Van Mieris the Elder (Dutch painter, 1635-1681) Woman Writing a Letter 1680 detail

Thursday 17 October 2013

Informal jackets and waistcoats of the early 17th century

No doubt some kind of informal wear has been around for a very long time, but as people opted to be portrayed in their finest clothes, they are seldom seen until around 1600. Then the English ladies started a trend to be shown in their more relaxed clothes, a jacket or waistcoat, with or without a matching petticoat. The clothes weren’t exactly simple, bot portraits and extant examples show lavish embroideries, silk, silverwork and spangles, but comparing to the formal fashion, these clothes were much simpler. They could be worn on their own, or with a loose gown over, paired with what kind of cuffs and collars that was fashionable.
Linen jacket embrodered with black wool, dated 1610-1620 and  skirt in fustian dated 1621-1640.

They are abundant in portraits the first two decades of the 17th century, and then their popularity seem to have waned in the 1630's. Perhaps because the more formal fashion became simpler, the waistcoats from the 1620’s are cut in a way that points toward the jacket-like bodices of the 1630’s. The waistcoats could be either form-fitting or loose, the latter probably maternal wear. The embroidered linen jackets, either monochromes or in colour, seems to have been an English fashion, but there are several knitted waistcoats preserved as well, and they have also been found in Scandinavia. Given the climate in Sweden I think I would prefer knitted silk to linen, so perhaps that is no surprise
I wish that the portrait of Lady Elizabth Howard was larger, but her jacket and petticoat looks very much like the extant example above.
Lady Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Banbury by Daniel Mytens, 1619
Linen jacket embrodered with black silk and metal thread, 1610-1620
Linen jacket embroidered with black silk, 1600-1625
Linen jacket embroidered with silk, 1620-1625
Unfortunately there are no colour photos of this pink silk jacket.
Waistcoat in pink taffeta embroidered with blue silk and spangles, 1610-1620
The following two portraits may not depict embroidred clothes, but patterned fabric, but then they also portrays the transitional fashion of the 1620's with a waist that is rising from its natural place and a more relaxed fashion in general.

Lady Anne Montagu by Daniel Mytens, 1626
Cecilia Nevill, by Robert Peake, ca. 1617

Linen jacket embroidered with silverwork, 1610-1615
This coif has the same mebroidery as the jacket above.
Linen coif and forehard cloth embroiedered with silverwork, 1610-1615
Two late examples from the 1630's.

Fustoan jacket embrodered with silverwork and spangles, 1630's

Linen bodice embroidered with silverwork and spangles, 1625-1640
Linen jacket embroidered in silk and silver, 1590-1630

Silk jacket, embroidered with silk, 1600-1625

The Layton jacket in linen, embroidered with silk and silver, 1610-1615

Margaret Layton, wearing the jacket shown above, by Marcus Gheeraerts, ca. 1620

Linen jacket embroidered with silk, 1610-1620

Portrait of a lady, thought to be Elizabeth of Bohhemia, circle of William Larkin

Traditionally called Dorothy Cary, later Viscountess Rochford by William Larkin, 1614-1618
Amy Seymour by a follower of Robert Peake, 1623

Linen jacket embroidered with silk and silver, 1600-1625
Unknown woman by Roman Way, ca. 1605
Portrait of a young woman, ca. 1610

Anne Hawtrey by a follower of Robert Peake

Portrait of a lady by Marcus Gheeraerts the younger, 1615-1618

Undated, but the hairstyle suggest 1620 or thereabout.
Linen jacket striped with silver, 1605-1620

Knitted waistcoat, 1650-1700

Knitted silk waistcoat

Knitted silk jacket, 17th century
Knitted silk jacket, 1600-1620
Knitted in silk, last half of the 17th century

Knitted waistcoat silk and silver-gilt wrapped silk, and lined with linen, 1630-1700

Jacket knitted in silk, 1600-1625

Another knitted silk jacket.
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