February 21, 2017

Anthropometamorphosis

=man transform’d: or, the artificiall changling historically presented, in the mad and cruell gallantry, foolish bravery, ridiculous beauty, filthy finenesse, and loathsome loveliness of most nations, fashioning and altering their bodies from the mould intended by nature; with figures of those transfigurations. To which artificiall and affected deformations are added, all the native and nationall monstrosities that have appeared to disfigure the humane fabrick. With a vindication of the regular beauty and honesty of nature. And an appendix of the pedigree of the English gallant. This book was written by John Bulwer and first published in 1650. The second edition in 1653 had added woodcuts. Here is the author from the front page of the second edition looking suitably authorial dressed in one of those artistic cloaks that artists seem to like (maybe it gives good reason not to paint all those messy costume details) with a plain falling band (spot the overlapping edges) and a nice decorative tassel on his bandstring.

John Bulwer. Anthropometamorphosis: man transform'd (London, 1653)

John was a doctor, but took a sabatical to write several books exploring the body and communication by gesture which was a particular interest. This tome as the title suggests is all about how the body can be altered from its natural state by clothes, tattoos, body adornments etc. Some of his information came from Dutch colonial settlers and the work has been described as one of the first studies in comparative cultural anthropology. The fronticepiece is very interesting and some of the characters depicted appear later in the book. For our purposes the lady bottom centre is worth studying as not many rear views appear in contemporary illustrations. You can see the petticoat gathers, the cut of her bodice and the rear of her kerchief. I also quite like the guy on the left with a face in his bum. Perhaps literally talking out of it?

 

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Anyway, what drew the book to me was this image of a girl in a tight laced bodice and the descriptive text. It’s in chapter 20 (he calls them scenes); Dangerous Fashions and desperate Affectations about the Breast and the Waste. The girl is wearing a linen coif on her head, a tightly laced bodice with sleeves and a nice layered kerchief.

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John is pretty forthright in his opinion. He says: ‘Another foolish affection there is in young Virgins, though grown big enough to be wiser, but that they are led blindfold by Custome to a fashion pernicious beyond imagination; who thinking a slender waste a great beauty, strive all that they possibly can by streight-lacing themselves, to attain unto a wand-like smallnesses of waste, never thinking themselves fine enough untill they can span their Waste. By which deadly Artifice they reduce their Breasts into such streights, that they soon purchase a stinking breath; and while they ignorantly affect an august or narrow Breast, and to that end by strong compulsion shut up their Wasts in a Whale-bone prison, or little ease; they open a door to Consumptions, and a withering rottenness.’

Good advice I say. There’s a lot more to look at in this book, particularly the appendix on the English Gallant. I shall return,

 

February 10, 2017

Strange Nevves from Newgate

…and the Old-Baily: or The proofs, examinations, declarations, indictments, conviction, and confessions of I. Collins, and T. Reeve, two of the Ranters taken in More-lane, at the Generall Sessions of gaol-delivery; holden in the Old-Baily the twentieth day, of this instant Ianuary, the penalties that are inflicted upon them. The proceedings against one Parson Williams for having four wives, and Iohn Iackson a Scots minister, condemned to be drawn, hanged, and quartered, for proclaiming Charles Stuart, King of England, with the strange and wonderfull judgement of God shewed upon one T. Kendall, a Ranter in Drury-lane who fell down dead as he was affirming that there is no God, or hell to punish. Published according to order

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A scurrilous 17th century tabloid, published in London in 1652, although someone has handwritten 1650 on the cover. The text details criminal trials in London the previous week and include John Jackson a Scots minister sentenced to death for supporting King Charles, ‘one Williams’, convicted of multiple bigamy, and two ranters arrested for ‘blasphemy’ in Moor Lane. The scene is pictured on page three along with a rather racy description.

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The text says ‘Collins, Reeves and others were sat at table eating a piece of beef. One of then took it in hand and tearing it assunder said to the others “This is the flesh of Christ, take and eat” The other took a cup of ale in his hand and threw it into a Chimney Corner saying ‘This is the blood of Christ“. And having some discourse of God it was proved that one of these said “That he could go into the House of Office and make a God every Morning“. By easing of his body and blowing through two pieces of Tobacco Pipes he said “That was the Breath of God“. There was also proved many other Blasphemous Words and uncivil behaviour, as the kissing of one another’s Breeches, more lively represented by this figure: (naughty picture alarm, but notice the length of his shirt tails)

 

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The bad people (crime never prospers children) were punished to six months in prison. The chap above has separated the breeches and doublet by unhooking the two and is holding up the long tails of his shirt. The naughty lady has a nice coif, a waistcoat and petticoat plus I suspect an apron and kerchief.

Further on in the text is the story of another Ranter, Mr Kendall who was caught and tried for lewd behaviour in Drury Lane, discoursing with a woman whom he called his Fellow Creature (I think we all know someone like Mr Kendall) and was persuading her to have his pleasure with her and said there was no God or Divell, affirming that all things come through Nature. Here he is in pictures.

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Neither did Mr Kendall prosper, even in his smart suit and cloak, for no sooner had he made the appointment than he was struck dead on the spot. As the text goes on to say, “A Sinner doeth wickedly an hundred times and his Dayes be prolonged yet remember for all this he must come to Judgement“.

Quite

 

February 10, 2017

Puritan Lady

British (English) School; Portrait of a Puritan Lady

Another unnamed portrait by an unnamed artist, this time in the Berwick Museum and Art Gallery. The canvas is dated 1638 and the title it’s been given says she’s a puritan. This was the catch all title for the collection of independent protestant sects, all slightly different from the next that grew up in the first half of the seventeenth century and exploded during the turmoil caused by the war. However she could just as easily be a member of a more established church group, or even a (gasp) catholic, there’s no way to tell from what she’s wearing how she worshipped.

The fine details show her double layer linen cuffs and the layers of fine see-through linen that comprise her neck covering. It’s up for debate, but around this time it could have been called a kerchief or a partlet. Both terms were in use, we just don’t know what (if any) distinction there was between the two. The layers however are so thin that you can see her smock beneath the fabric. The details of her bodice (or maybe waistcoat) are tricky to see as it has been painted so blackly there are no details. She has a coral bracelet on her wrist. These were worn as good luck charms and also were thought to have healing properties. Her hair seems to be undressed. but she has covered it with a magnificent broad brimmed hat.

February 9, 2017

Thomas Edgar

British (English) School; Thomas Edgar (1594-1657)

I can find no biographical information about Thomas, but his portrait (by an unknown artist) hangs in the collection of the Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service. He’s an oddly modern looking cove staring out at us with his raffish moustache and short hair, but his clothes are straight out of the late 1630s, early 1640s. His doublet is nicely figured black velvet and he has the kind of decorative point decorations around his waistband that were a remnant of the old fashioned method of tying your breeches to your doublet with ribbon points. I wouldn’t mind betting that underneath his tailor has sewn the more modern hooks and eyes. The sleeve seam is open to show off his shirt linen and the other visible linen, falling band and cuffs is superb.

 

The lace on his band is exquisite and the tassels of his band-strings are just magnificent in the detail. Also not the fineness of the linen of his cuffs and the tiny darts that shape them to his sleeve.

This detail is lovely too, the crispness of the linen is obvious and the work on the darts around his neck show this was made by an expert seamstress. You can also see where the artist has tried to show the gathers of the lace around the right angle of the band on his right hand side so it lays nice and flat.

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February 7, 2017

Sir Edward Dering

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Sir Edward’s portrait was painted by Dobson, probably in 1642. He had raised a royalist cavalry regiment at the start of the war but by all accounts, soldiering wasn’t really his thing. He was in ill health before hostilities began and wasn’t too enamoured of the thought of life on campaign. He subsequently resigned his commission in 1643 and died in June 1644. You can see from his world weary look that he wasn’t not too keen when he sat for Dobson. He wrote a book, Discourse of Proper Sacrifice in 1640 that was published shortly before he died. He had long been keen on the King’s church reforms and the thrust of the text was his hope for peace and the return of the King to Parliament. He wrote “In the meantime, I dare wish that he would make less value of such men both lay and clergy who, by running on the Canterbury pace, have made our breaches so wide and take less delight in the specious way of cathedral devotions”

Sir Edward stares into the distance with a well furrowed brow and his plain linen band and understated strings suggest he’s in his campaign clothes. It’s also been creased somehow since it was last washed and (presumably) pressed The pale taffeta scarf is edged with a small amount of lace too. The plain linen cuffs on his shirt look like they are stained from action and a black or dark brown doublet will also hide the dirt. The turn-back cuffs on the doublet show a red lining. Even the sword belt is a plain serviceable one. This picture hangs in the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh in Brecon

November 26, 2015

The Military Discipline Plate 5

From The Military Discipline wherein is Martially Showne the Order for Drilling the Musket and Pike, published by Thomas Jenner, London 1642. This is plate five of the drill book published just before the wars broke out. I’ve no reason to suspect this is anything other than portraits of the trained bandes of London at their postures. These guys are dressed in high status clothes, braided breeches and slashed sleeves. Not the kind of clobber you would wear to take the the field.

The style of the plates is very similar to a drill book published in Europe in 1607 with engravings by Jacques de Gheyn. In fact there are a number of european and english drill books starting from de Gheyn, using exactly the same poses but every time updating the clothes.

More rear views here, number 13 is wearing a montero cap and interestingly number 16’s coat has no back seam, and is slit to the waist, something that would only really work with a well fulled broadcloth that wouldn’t fray easily along the edge. 15’s coat in contrast looks like it is hemmed.

This is number five in the series. I took the photos from the original book.

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November 26, 2015

The Military Discipline Plate 4

From The Military Discipline wherein is Martially Showne the Order for Drilling the Musket and Pike, published by Thomas Jenner, London 1642. This is plate four of the drill book published just before the wars broke out. I’ve no reason to suspect this is anything other than portraits of the trained bandes of London at their postures. These guys are dressed in high status clothes, braided breeches and slashed sleeves. Not the kind of clobber you would wear to take the the field. We are still crunching through musket drill, broken down into all the separate moves that would most probably be thrown away on the battlefield. All back views this time. Notice from the legend that numbers 11 and 12 are using a ‘charge’ to introduce powder down their barrels. Victorian wisdom always suggested these bandolier containers were called apostles.  This is number four in the series. I took the photos from the original book.

 

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November 25, 2015

The Military Discipline Plate 3

From The Military Discipline wherein is Martially Showne the Order for Drilling the Musket and Pike, published by Thomas Jenner, London 1642. This is plate three of the drill book published just before the wars broke out. I’ve no reason to suspect this is anything other than portraits of the trained bandes of London at their postures. These guys are dressed in high status clothes, braided breeches and slashed sleeves. Not the kind of clobber you would wear to take the the field. Some fancy garters on display here too. This is number three in the series. I took the photos from the original book.DSC_3111

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November 25, 2015

The Military Discipline Plate 2

From The Military Discipline wherein is Martially Showne the Order for Drilling the Musket and Pike, published by Thomas Jenner, London 1642. This is plate two from the back of a drill book published just before the wars broke out. I’ve no reason to suspect this is anything other than portraits of the trained bandes of London at their postures. These guys are dressed in high status clothes, braided breeches and slashed sleeves. Check out the fancy hose on the musketeer in picture 8. Not the kind of clobber you would wear to take the the field. This is second in the series. I took the photos from the original book.

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November 25, 2015

The Military Discipline Plate 1

From The Military Discipline wherein is Martially Showne the Order for Drilling the Musket and Pike, published by Thomas Jenner, London 1642. This is plate one of a drill book published just before the wars broke out. I’ve no reason to suspect this is anything other than portraits of the trained bandes of London at their postures. These guys are dressed in high status clothes, braided breeches and slashed sleeves. Not the kind of clobber you would wear to take the the field. This is first in a series. I took the photos from the book.

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