Four more 18th century dresses for the Pixie paper dolls today. So, by now I think I’ve already covered the various sorts of gowns women wore in the 18th century with a fair bit of detail.
On the left, we have a caraco jacket and a square hooped court gown. The caraco jacket was inspired by this gown from LACMA. The court gown was based on this gown in style and this gown in color scheme. Square hooped court gowns like this one were the most formal of a ladies wardrobe and, like court gowns generally seem too, stayed in style even after square hoops were disappearing else where.
Most of my color choices here came from the source gowns above. My favorite of the gowns, the caraco jacket with petticoat on the upper-left was the most painful to color. Those detailed floral patterns get my every time, but I just love the way they look. There is something about 18th century sprawling viney florals that I can’t get enough of. Even in my own house, I have an apron in that style of pattern that I wear while baking and simply adore.
I should say, I think, word about her hat. There are small dotted lines along the outside edges of the ribbon and you will need to clip those if she is going to wear her hat, as well as cut out the white area. That is best done with a sharp blade, like an exacto knife. I don’t usually use an exacto knife in my paper doll cutting (I am clumsy with those things), but for some things it really is the most effective option.
In my first page of gowns for my 18th century paper doll series, I talked a lot about different styles of gowns. I did not, however, talk about stomachers. So, a stomacher was a triangular shaped piece of cloth that was pinned or sewn in place to fill in the bodice of gowns. Most gowns had either an actual separate stomacher or something that looked like a stomacher. In today’s collection of gowns, they all have stomachers, except the polianse gown which is front fastening.
On the left side, the first gown is a polinase style based on this gown at the V&A. The lower gown was my rather poor attempt at capturing looped silk fringe which was very much in style in the 18th century. I believe this was the gown I started from, but I’m not totally pleased with the resulting outcome.
The first gown on the right was my attempt at the caraco jacket sort of garment with a stomacher. This example from the Met is a similar style. The gown on the bottom-right is based on this gown where the stomacher extends below the closure of the coat like bodice.
The two different sized caps on the page are needed to accommodate the difference in hairstyles between Joy and Faith. There will be a third Pixie doll for this series, but she won’t be up for a while. After this there is another page of gowns, I think. I have four pages of gowns and three pages of dolls, so you can see there’s a little bit of a challenge as far as going doll, gowns, doll…
Today, we have out first set of 18th century gowns for the paper dolls, including a round gown, a brunswick and a robe à la française.
Until the introduction of high-waisted dresses at the very end of the 18th century, most women’s garments consisted of a skirt or petticoat and a bodice. In garments like round gowns, less formal and/or worn by the middle classes, the bodice would fasten in the front and there would be a separate skirt. The far left paper doll costume is a round-gown, based on this round gown from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Sometimes, the bodice would come down partly over the skirt creating a jacket like affect. These mid-thigh length bodices were called caraco jackets. Here, for example, is an extant caraco jacket from the LACMA. Later in this series, there will be caraco jackets, but our middle gown is not a caraco jacket, but rather a brunswick. Brunswicks were traveling garments, often hooded, that had long sleeves. Though relatively practical, they were made of fine fabrics like silk- which makes one wonder about the whole “traveling” thing. Anyway, you often see Brunswick’s in art, but the V&A has a rare extant version which would have had removable sleeves. I based my Brunswick’s on two portraits- Lady Mary Fox and Alexander Roslin’s Portrait of the Girl Holding a Spaniel.
If the bodice and skirt were attached to each other in the 18th century, the skirt would be open in the front to reveal the petticoat underneath. This style of gown was called a robe à l’anglaise, closed bodied gown or an English gown if the pleats in the back of the bodice were stitched down. However, if the pleats were allowed to fall open and loose than the gown became sack-back gown or robe à la française. In modern times, this gown has been called a Watteau back or Watteau gown, after a painter who painted a lot of this style. The dress to the far right of today’s paper doll set is a sack-back gown, but I think the style is easier to see through extant examples like this robe à l’anglaise and robe à la française, both from the Met’s collection.
Along with the gowns, today’s set includes a pair of slippers with overshoes based on this set from the Powerhouse Museum Collection. Over shoes were worn to protect the shoe from mud and muck, though I wonder how much protection a brocade and leather pair could have granted. I’ve also included several different styles of hats. My goal with the hats in this paper doll series is less to match specific dresses, but rather to provide enough variety for there to be plenty of choices. Women did not always wear their hair covered, but usually did.
My color choices for these gowns were taken from my 18th century color pallet which I showed off in last week’s paper doll post. I chose pale blue for the round gown, since the source gown is blue striped, bright yellow for the brunswick, and a rich teal-blue color for my first robe à la française. That is certainly the most formal of the gowns from today’s set. The shoes were done in a neutral light brown color to go with any of the dresses.
I first stumbled across Cranach dress or gowns in this rather gruesome painting of Judith with the Head of Holofernes months ago and her gown was fascinating. I didn’t know much about it, except that it was painted by Lucas Cranach. As it turned out, I discovered as I did more research, that the artist- Lucas Cranach the Elder- painted countless versions of this gown on countless both real and mythological figures. Coming out of the Saxony area of Germany, Lucas Cranach was hired by Fredrick the Wise who to be the court painter of his court in 1505 and Cranach stayed there for the rest of his life. He was extremely prolific and his art is distinctly romantic and stylized. Even his portraits all rather do look the same after a while, I have to confess.
However, there is a debate as to whether or not Cranach’s gowns actually existed in the real world. Here’s my view: We don’t have an extant one, but then we don’t have very many extant garments from this era anyway. Should we find one the debate would be settled, but until then we have to work with the primary sources we have. The value of fabric and the expense of clothing was so great the people usually chose to be painted to garments they actually owned.
Plus, I tend to approach history with the belief that in the absence of proof to the contrary, we should assume that people of the era were not trying to mislead people of the future. Why commission a family history with crests and portraits of your family, if you are not going to accurately render the people in the images? Das Sächsische Stammbuch – Mscr.Dresd.R.3 is a collection of portraits of Saxon nobles. Why put the princesses in imaginary gowns?
The first question I struggled to answer was if the nets of pearls so often seen the women’s hair in these portraits were actually nets of pearls, or rather some sort of cap. This article on these caps lead me to conclude it was a cap, rather than part of the hair. The paper doll’s shoes are fairly standard 15th century shoes with squared toes. Her hats are based on portraits of the era.
I picked out colors based on the main colors I saw in the portraiture which were red and black. I really wanted to do blue as well, like the illustrations of the Saxon princesses and so I did a blue gown as well. I did wonder, however, about the blue. Color is often symbolic in manuscript illustration and I wondered if perhaps blue was used to denote virginity (the Madonna was associated with blue) rather than to render the actual color of the gowns. Never the less, I thought they looked pretty and that was enough for me. I made the paper doll a redhead, because I have a thing for redheads and so did, it seems, Cranach.
The most useful document was Das Sächsische Stammbuch – Mscr.Dresd.R.3 and I owe a debt to the library that digitized it. It it through this digital work that people like me can see the great artifacts of Europe and study them. I am well aware of the risks and time such projects take, so I am grateful when libraries and museums undertake them.
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This isn’t my first foray into the whole “regency steampunk” genre, though I don’t know if this genre already exists or not. My first foray was back when I did my Best Friends set and one of their pages was regency steampunk.
This is my second foray into the genre. I think it is largely more successful, mostly because I am a better artist now than I was three years ago. I still struggle with making goggles that really “work”, but I have hopes that eventually I might figure it out.
Steampunk fascinates me just as much as Gothic fashions and Cyberpunk fashions fascinate me. I am always interested in alterative fashion cultures as they reflect some part of our cultural fabric. Despite finding them interesting, I have never had any desire to “dress up” in steampunk. I simply don’t like wearing costumes, a fact which shocks many people when they find out I draw paper dolls.
So, I’ve spoken before about my pet peeve that fantasy people are always white skinned, as a result I gave my steampunk regency paper doll a soft brown skin-tone. I was going to say “mocha” skintone, but I have been trying to avoid using food words to describe skintones. They just kinda creep me out. Something about my skin being called peach or cream, or calling someone else’s skin chocolate or spice, sorta… I dunno. I’m not sure I want to think of my skin as a food product. It’s a little Hannibal Lector, you know?
Anyway, moving on… The colors are based on actual common early 19th century colors including Turkey Red and Indigo. Both of these colors are produced by dyes from India or Turkey. They are such rich colors that I countered them with cream and black. Personally, I love how real natural indigo fabrics look. It’s an amazing color.
Be sure to cut along the dotted lines so she can wear her clothes and the floating tabs should keep her little top hats on her head.
I’ve never seen anyone else combine the early 1800s silhouettes with steampunk, so maybe it has a name already and I don’t know it. Either way, I am trying to decide what to call this new genre of fashion and therefore have a poll. Plus, you know, polls are fun.
What should we call early 19th century dress combined with steampunk?
Regencypunk (29%, 12 Votes)
Austenpunk (29%, 12 Votes)
Empirepunk (22%, 9 Votes)
Just Steampunk, it doesn't need another name (17%, 7 Votes)
Other... I'll tell you in a comment (2%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 41
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This isn’t an accurate depiction of Tang Dynasty dress. Though at times it seems to me that this would be obvious, most people (myself included) aren’t very familiar with the dynasties of China, let alone what they were wearing. Oddly, I never feel like when I draw stuff like this or this or this, I have to say it’s not accurate historical European dress, so perhaps my ned for a “disclaimer” is partly an assumption on my part about what my readers are familiar with.
So, anyway, these gowns were inspired by Hanfu and Tang Dynasty dress if anyone is keeping count. Of course, they aren’t accurate and they aren’t meant to be. I just had a lot of fun looking up gowns like this one and this one on Pinterest.
I find balancing research intense projects with non-research intense projects really helps keep me feeling sane. So, fantasy often seems to counter balance historical sets. I just finished, for example, penciling the largest 18th century set that I have ever drawn and then drew a space princess with a ray gun.
I went with a muted color scheme that I found on Design Seeds. I wanted it to feel a little less bright and more nature inspired than a lot of my color schemes tend towards. I have a lof of bright colors. I think the gray greens and soft lavenders go a long way to keeping things feeling soft and delicate.
I swear I had a reference from a contemporary Asian historical drama film when I drew her hair, but now I can’t seem to find the picture on Pinterest. Normally, I’m quite compulsive about saving these things, so I’m a little surprised to be so flummoxed.
I love fairy tales. I have always loved fairy tales. I have fond memories of, far past the point of being able to read complicated books, sitting in the library reading picture books of fairy tales. I love the lavish illustrations, but I also like reading many different versions of the same story. These days I still like doing that, but now I like learning why and where the different varients of Cinderella or the Twelve Dancing Princesses come from.
Today’s paper doll set is an ode to one of my favorite fairy tales. The Frog Prince or The Princess and the Frog, depending on which version you read. A princess loses her beautiful golden ball down a well and a frog retrieves it for her only if she will marry him. She agrees and then backs out of her promise. The story goes from there.
In the end, I think the moral is supposed to be “keep your promises” or “don’t judge on appearances”, but it could also be, “don’t drop your precious golden ball down a well.”
Disney did an interesting adaption of the tale recently, but I will always picture the Princess how she was drawn by Walter Crane in the Frog Prince. Walter Crane is one of my favorite children’s illustrators. I was inspired by the pseudo-renaissance look for my own paper doll’s costume.
So, there is a frog, a golden ball, and a beautiful gown for the Princess. I am not much an animal artist, but I did my best to make my frog cute and palm sized. I always thought the Princess in the Frog Prince was a little spoiled, but then I suppose that’s just how fairy tales go sometimes.