Archive for June 13th, 2013

June 13, 2013

Nature’s Cruel Stepdames

or, Matchlesse monsters of the female sex; Elizabeth Barnes, and Anne Willis, printed by Henry Goodcole, London 1637. this is my 300th post here and like to I think quite a special picture. Henry Goodcole  seems to have specialised in these collections of what we would now call lurid tabloid stories. On this occasion the first tale is that of a mother, Elizabeth Barnes who took her eight year old daughter Susan into the woods, and having watched her fall asleep proceeded to cut her throat with a carving knife. What is significant here is that the woodcut matches specifically the details in the pamphlet so we can be pretty confident of a date close to the year of publication.

What we have here is a common woman and child of the period in pretty standard clothes, the kind of thing that crops up rarely in English depictions. The woodcut is quite crude, but you can clearly see that both are dressed in waistcoats and petticoat and that Elizabeth has some kind of darted linen collar or band around her neck. Susan’s waistcoat has definite tabs at the waist, whereas I suspect that her murderous mother has a gored one though it’s impossible to tell for sure as her arm is in the way!

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June 13, 2013

John Tradescant the Younger and Hester His Second Wife

Attributed to Emmanuel de Critz and painted around 1656 this double portrait is kind of a companion to the previous post of John the Elder and his wife, though notice the difference 20 years have made to the clothes Hester is wearing compared to John the Elder’s wife. There is more colour here and Hester’s bodice is much more boned and fitted to the wearer. The sleeves are made from quite a lot of fabric if you notice the gathers at the cuff. She also wears a double layer of linen around her neck, but the lines are softer, less severe somehow and there is an elaborate fastening across her chest. She also wears a black hood or chaperone on her head and is holding a sprig of myrtle which echoes John’s profession as a gardener but which also symbolises her fidelity. John the Younger on the other hand, apart from being bareheaded is dressed almost identically to his father in the earlier portrait, black doublet with a plain linen band. Note though how many buttons he has on his doublet front and cuffs. Yet again, thanks to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford where the picture resides for allowing me to post it here.  © 2011 University of Oxford – Ashmolean Museum

John Tradescant the Younger and Hester, his second Wife