Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bombazine, Ahoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Susan reports:

Yes, it’s difficult to judge the past by satiric cartoons of the time.  If we consider the op-ed version of the Women’s Movement of the 1960s, we’d think that every female in American was flinging her bra into the liberation fires.  Nope, not by half –– any more than every Englishwoman in the early 1800s paraded through a northern winter in a handkerchief’s worth of cotton muslin, with nothing at all beneath it.

That said, the cartoons sure ARE a lot of fun. This one shows the older generation appalled by the newest fashions, with a dreadful pun for good measure (click on the image to enlarge so you don’t miss the details.) FYI: Bombazine is a stiff, heavy silk, while Bum-be-seen is pretty self-explanatory.

The Fashions of the Day, or Time Past and Present, by George Moutard Woodward, 1807.  From the collection of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

13 comments:

Loretta Chase said...

Wonderful print, Susan. This definitely shows us why people were so scandalized by the change in fashion, and exaggerated the "nakedness." The issue is simply that one could discern a woman's shape for the first time in centuries. One older generation is appalled at miniskirts. Another older generation is appalled at big pants, showing guys' underwear. I believe this belongs to the Department of Plus ca Change.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Lady in white is holding her parasol in a rather provocative manner, don't you think?

NHG, these prints are so great!

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Loretta, I know if we hunted about, we could probably find a similar print from the 1740s, with the "new" styles upsetting a lady from the 1690s. As you say, nothing changes. Ever.

Vanessa, I think they may be getting ready for a War of Accessories, fan vs. parasol. Take that, you shameless hussy!!

Deb Marlowe said...

I adore the cartoons from the period.

I can totally picture a couple of young misses, standing outside the print shop window, rolling their eyes. "You can't see *my* bum, or my garters either. Can you?"

Susan Holloway Scott said...

I don't know, Deb. I'm guessing that the young misses back then were probably pretty much like young misses of every age, and were sneaking back to the cloak-room to take off that extra shift that mean old mama insisted they wear so the young gentlemen wouldn't be able to check out their bums. Because usually that's exactly what young misses want young gentlemen to be doing. *g*

Vanessa Kelly said...

Yes, the lady in black totally looks like she's going to give Miss Thing a whack in the bum.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Thanks for this, Susan! Why, our 1740s 'miss' looks positively medieval with that cowl and stiff bodice,no? I must say, you NHGs have really opened my eyes; silly tho' it seems, it just never occurred to me that the Regency style was more figure conscious that the Georgian, etc. I think of the Georgian pd as so decadent, w/the low bodices and scandalously displayed decollete, that it just didn't occur to me be aware one couldn't see the rest of the silhouette. Plus, as Loretta's mentioned a while back, there's much to be said for the 'unwrapping' of the 18th C styles...

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Vanessa, I'm laughing over "Lady Miss Thing".

Michelle, in defense of the Georgian fashions of 1740 -- some of those are mucho hot, just in a different way. But in this drawing, I'd say that the artist chose to make the lady in black look so old and stodgy (almost like a nun, which, given the constant anti-Catholic feeling in England, may not have been by accident) to push his point. His version of 1740s style isn't particularly accurate, but it works for the cartoon.

You've made me feel guilty now about the 1740s ladies, so I promise they'll get their due next time I post. :)

Ingrid said...

Your cartoon made me think of this drawing in the Amsterdam Archives. It's from a lovely diary of drawings by Christiaan Andriessen from the first decade of the 19th century.
Below is the link for a drawing dated 17 September 1807. The drawing enlarges when you click on it. It's a party on the occasion of someone's 25th birthday at the house of his aunts. Christiaan himself is playing the pianoforte and his brother-in-law, mother and sisters are dancing in the clothes from 25 or 30 years ago. This was obviously amusing in 1807 and the three people in the foreground look very different from the people in the background (though there does seem to be a man in a wig among the spectators). The women, of all ages, seem to be quite modestly dressed in their high-waisted dresses. As they do on most of the other drawings in the diary.

http://beeldbank.amsterdam.nl/index.php?beginjaar=&eindjaar=&qasked=1&qtype=nieuw&q=%22KOG-ZG-3-191%22

You can see all the drawings here:
http://beeldbank.amsterdam.nl/index.php?beginjaar=&eindjaar=&qasked=1&qtype=nieuw&q=%22KOG-ZG-3-191%22

It is a timesink of enormous proportions, but great fun, even without being able to read the text, I should think.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Ingrid, thank you so much for sharing these images! I love seeing how much clothing varies (and is the same) in other countries. Since I've recently been writing books set in the 17th c., I've been fascinated by the differences/similarities between the "big three" countries at the time: England, France, and the Dutch Republic.

I'm always ready for a good time-sink, but the two links you posted are the same. :( Could you check again and repost? Thank you!

Ingrid said...

Sorry about that! Hopefully this is the index with all the tiny thumbnails.

http://stadsarchief.amsterdam.nl/presentaties/uitgelicht/andriessen/overzicht/index.nl.html

Susan Holloway Scott said...

That link worked, Ingrid -- thank you! Though my editor may not agree, considering how much time I'm going to be squandering on all those intriguing thumbnails....

And I'm so glad you found us here at the TNHGs! *G*

Ingrid said...

I'm glad I found you too!

 
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