As anyone who has followed this blog knows, we NHG love satirical prints from the 18th-19th c. – not only for their droll humor, but also for the insight they provide into the details of everyday life in the past. Yet not even we have dared to dream (and we do dare, quite often) that we could actually see such a scene.
But that's exactly what our excellent friends at the Margaret Hunter Shop of Colonial Williamsburg have been working for much of this year: recreating all the clothes and accessories shown in the print, left: The Spruce Sportsman: or Beauty the best shot(also called A Morning Visit, or The Fashionable Dresses for the Year 1777)by Carrington Bowles.
There are several purposes to the project. The first, of course, is to create these clothes much as any accomplished and style-conscious 18th century English tailor and mantua maker would for his or her customers, using period techniques and materials. Everything is cut and stitched by hand.
Second, the pieces will be used as examples in lectures for an upcoming symposium, Costume Accessories: Head to Toe, to be offered at Colonial Williamsburg in March, 2011. (For more information and to download a registration form, click here.)
Third, and most dramatic of all, the clothing and accessories will be featured in a video presentation to accompany an upcoming exhibition called Fashion Accessories from Head to Toe at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg. The figures in The Spruce Sportsman will quite literally come to life in the video by way of costumed interpreters. While the video is still in production, here's a sneak peek behind the scenes, right, showing the actors and actresses in place for the shoot before the green screen, and all dressed in their gorgeous finery. Over the next few days, we'll be sharing close-ups of some of these pieces – beginning with that amazing feathered hat.
Above: The Spruce Sportsman, or Beauty the best shot, by Carrington Bowles, 1777. Collection, Colonial Williamsburg. Below: Photograph courtesy of the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop, Colonial Williamsburg.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.