The Foure Complexions: Melancholy

One of a set of prints engraved by William Marshall and published in 1637, this image shows a high class woman, though seemingly (from her expression) not quite as sad as the title would suggest.

The verse below says:

“When I am forced to work my Shoulders droop, for I am tall and doe not like to stoope”

I can’t see anyone forcing this lady to work and anyway in the boned bodies she is wearing it would be almost impossible to bend very far. The tabbed bodies she is wearing are attached to a large set of slashed sleeves on top of which are some over-sleeves fastened at the elbow. Her cuffs and the rather old fashioned layered and stiffened collar are edged with wide lace. Her under petticoat is embroidered, certainly as far as we can see and she has a second petticoat open at the front and fastened around the waist with a tie, possibly a matching ribbon. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 10.37.25

In this detail of her upper body, you can see how low the fashionable neckline was and notice the edge of her smock visible at the top of her bodies. This smock obviously doesn’t have a collar!

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 08.55.25

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One Comment to “The Foure Complexions: Melancholy”

  1. Many thanks for this fascinating post and also your delightful comments… 🙂

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