Archive for October, 2013

October 10, 2013

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

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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!

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October 9, 2013

The Compleat Horse-man and Ferrier

A manual on horseman ship and horse care by Thomas de Gray (Esquire) that was published and republished throughout the century, though it often seemed to be a book that invited comment rather than acceptance. Extant copies often have annotations written in the margin, not always in agreement with Mr de Gray.  Much like cars today, everyone had their own opinion about horses and how to look after them in the 17th century. This is the frontispiece of the 1639 edition featuring the King in classic dressage pose on a rather small-headed horse. Charles is wearing a smallish brimmed felt hat, a doublet with slashed sleeves, breeches with ribbons at the knee, a nice pair of boots and a lace falling band.


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October 7, 2013

Mystagogus Poeticus

or, The muses interpreter, explaining the historical mysteries, and mystical histories of the ancient Greek and Latin poets. Here Apollo’s temple is again opened, the muses treasures the sixth time discovered, and the gardens of Parnassus disclosed more fully; whence many flowers of useful, delightful, and rare observations, never touched by any other mythologist, are collected. A classical work by the scholar and Church of England Clergyman Alexander Ross published in 1647. Ross was something of a colourful figure.   As his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Biography says “virtually all of his prolific output was underpinned by a violent and often vituperative indignation directed at other authors”. He is also credited with the first English translation of the Qur’an.

This is the front page showing Alexander in his gown over a pair of breeches, showing a nicely turned leg with a smart shoe and stocking. In the background a group of classically dressed musicians provide and accompaniment.

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Close up of Alexander’s leg showing the detail of his shoe.


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