Posted: November 28th, 2013
Modern History of Fashion Research paper
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was a reputed American artist born in Florence, Italy remembered for his imaginative recreations of Edward Era luxury. He produced approximately 900 oil paintings, 2000 watercolors and numerous sketches and charcoal drawings. His most notable works are; Portrait of Madame X, The Daughters of Edward Darley Bolt, Carnation and Lady with Rose. Documents on his early life show that he was trained in Paris before later moving to London. He enjoyed international acclamations as a painter but controversies and scandals dogged his career. From his works, it was evident he posed great technical abilities in drawing with a brush. His commissioned portraits showed consistency with the high renaissance classic art. However, the un-commissioned works and landscapes were impressionists. His later works were on mural painting and open-air painting (Metropolitan Museum of Art: 13)
John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Louise Burckhardt) was decommissioned in 1882. The painting was done during the Victorian era and was carried out on canvas with oil. Charlotte Louise (1862-1892) was the daughter of the artist’s acquaintance in Paris. A part from this portrait, which he dedicated to the mother, he also had made several other portraits of the Burckhardt family during the same period. In this portrait, gauging by the poise and palette, he seems to have been influenced by the works of Velazquez in Madrid (1879). It is rumored that Louise and Sargent were engaged although Louise later married an Englishman and later died in1889. The portrait was handed over to the museum by her sister Valerie (Metropolitan Museum of Art: 13)
. The girl in the painting is wearing a black cuirasses bodice. A cuirasses bodice was like a corset but dipped deeper, both front and back, extending down the hips because the dress has shoulder to hem panels. The skirt flows to the feet of the woman forming swirls. The silhouette is typical of the late Victorian but lacking the elongation by the train. The bodice and skirt are cut in one. The dress is slim and elongated to the feet creating the look of a body encased in an amour (Fashion era: 23). From the portrait, she was not wearing a bustle but in order to assist the dress to fall well a small pad is used instead.
Her hair is trimmed with curls at the front; it is held together by a head bow in the middle of the head. The Victorians hair was usually soft and natural. They rarely did cut their hair and it was usually worn up and decorated with small pieces of flowers, ribbons and comps. This period shows the introduction of fringes and creating waves and curls using hot irons. The styles were conservative and long hair was mostly worn by performers and young girls (Lynch: 104). However, during the late 19th century huge amounts of false hair were introduced in the market. This meant that only little of what is displayed is natural hair while the rest is artificial. This can termed as the rise of a fetishism culture.
Factors that had an impact on the fashion industry during this period was the invention of the sewing mill, fashion evolved to be an agent of culture, introduction of synthetic dyes for denser colors and also the shape of the skirt changed dramatically(Lynch : 34). The dome skirt evolved to having flat front and leaning back. The fabric used is likely to be organdie. It was a fine and stiff cotton fabric used mainly to manufacture dresses during the Victorian age. The organdie was used by highflying socialites because it was mostly imported from the Far East countries.
As part of their socialization, the Victorian girls used to read textiles and fashion and were directly involved in the control of fashion and textiles. The status of the woman in the society can be obtained by analyzing the clothes she is wearing. The type of dress, undergarment and fabric choice worn by a woman during this period showed her social standing.
The woman in the portrait is wearing a corset as an undergarment. Corsets were tight and form shaping garments worn as undergarments or outerwear. The corset was an undergarment used to achieving the tiny waist popular during the Victorian era (Kortsch, 58). Corsets were very fashionable an embodied class status and social standing. Although it was an undergarment, it was the very epitome of femininity. Not wearing a corset exposed one to a lot of social scrutiny and disrespect. The corset created the feminine silhouette required from any woman of any social standing (Fashion era: 87). Louise is wearing a corset and her garment is made probably of organdie this implies she came from a wealthy background.
Several inventions and developments fundamentally changed the fashion design industry and the clothing production. These factors influenced the popular silhouette for many years to come. The factors can be summed as invention of the sewing machine, developments of the railway system, introduction of the ready-made industry, and departmental store (Kortsch: 255). The development of the dye by William Perkin revolutionized the textile industry with first color being mauve. Increased industrialization led to higher production outputs and faster dissemination of new clothing trends.
Kortsch, Christine B. “Dress Culture in Late Victorian Women’s Fiction: Literacy, Textiles, and Activism”. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2009. Print.
Lynch, Annette, and Mitchell D. Strauss. “Changing Fashion: A Critical Introduction to Trend Analysis and Meaning”. Oxford: Berg, 2007. Print.
Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.