Archive for November, 2013

November 29, 2013

Family Portrait

This picture came up for sale at Christies in London in 2011, and is described as “Family portrait, small three-quarter-length, in black, red and white dress”. It has scant provenance, and in fact is inscribed on the frame with a story of how it turned up: ‘This oil painting washed ashore at Rottingdean with other wreckage from the Australian ship “Simla”,: Run down by the ship City of Lucknow, Feb 25th 1884’. It’s a lovely picture of a typical family from the seventeenth century and has the look of those Dutch master paintings of ordinary folk that hardly ever turn up in portraits by English artists

The people in the picture are dressed in clothes that place the time of the picture in the 1640s or thereabouts, and seem to be as described, a family group. They mostly look at us from the picture, though the three figures on the right look across the picture at the eldest member of the family.  He is presumably the grandfather of the family and is dressed in a gown and ruff collar with a lace edged day cap. The husband and wife (I imagine) are in their best blacks. The wife with a neat plain layered kerchief and a black hood over hers (perhaps this refers to a lost child), whilst the man of the house is in a plain black doublet and a neat falling band. If you look closely though, he has left the lower buttons unfastened so you can see his shirt. The three children are all dressed in petticoats and aprons and there is no way to tell if they are boys or girls from what they are wearing. The seventh figure  is partly hidden by an open door and seems to be wearing a red waistcoat over petticoat skirts and an apron and kerchief.

Family portrait, small three-quarter-length, in black, red and white dress

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November 29, 2013

Portrait of a Royalist Cavalry Officer

From the Bridgeman Art Library (hence the watermark). I can see no reason why this has been labelled as Royalist or cavalry, but there you are. It is undated, though to my eye, the clothes and the style of the portrait set it firmly in the Civil War period. The picture is in private hands somewhere and is  © Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts, New York.

The officer is staring out of the picture quite nonchalantly and is standing defiantly foursquare in his buff coat and breeches. He looks like he’d rather be off out than stay indoors having his portrait painted.

The perfectly white sleeves of his doublet contrast with the black of his breeches and are brocaded (or perhaps embroidered) in an intricate pattern whilst his buff leather coat is also extravagantly laced at the front. His falling band is edged in a wide band of lace, though his cuffs don’t actually match, being ruffled but not edged with lace. Note also the line of buttons down the side of his breeches and around the bottom edge too. His boots are lined with red leather and the boothose edged with lace, though again not the same pattern as his band, which is either sloppy dressing or indicates that as a soldier he didn’t care too much! He is wearing spurs to indicate that he is off to ride a horse, though not necessarily in a cavalry regiment. His baldric and sword seem to be quite plain and businesslike which suggests that they have seen action.

 

Portrait of a Royalist Cavalry Officer, c.1640 (oil on copper), English School, (17th century) : Private Collection

November 29, 2013

Portrait of an Unknown Officer

This painting came up for auction in 2008 at Gorringes Auction House in Lewes and has been attributed to John Souch. It certainly looks like the style of the portrait painter from Chester and the clothes worn by the officer are spot on for the period. He is wearing a thick leather buff coat laced together down the front with silk satin sleeves seemingly laced in to the coat rather than attached to an underlying doublet. His falling band and cuffs are neat with matching lace edges and his sword hangs from a nicely embroidered baldrick. The magnificent plume on the helmet beside him nicely matches the colours of his lacings and the edges of his baldrick.

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November 28, 2013

England’s Grievance Discovered Part Five: Scold’s Bridle

Ralph Gardiner 1655. This one is quite familiar, I’ve see it in several publications before, but nonetheless the costume details are excellent and in many ways akin to the Cryes of London. Here’s the text:

“Iohn Wilis of Ipswich upon his Oath said, that he this Deponent was in Newcastle six months ago, and there he saw one Ann Biulestone drove through the streets by an Officer of the same Corporation, holding a rope in his hand, the other end fastned to an Engine called the Branks, which is like a Crown, it being of Iron, which was musled over the head and face, with a great gap or tongue of Iron forced into her mouth, which forced the blood out. And that is the punishment which the Magistrates do inflict upon chiding, and scoulding women, and that he hath often seen the like done to others.”

So here is Ann with the Officer of the Corporation. The officer has a hat, coat breeches and shoes whilst the poor woman strapped into the branks is wearing a bodice and petticoat with an apron and kerchief tucked in, and just a glimpse of shoes at the bottom.

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November 28, 2013

England’s Grievance Discovered Part Four

Another image from Ralph Gardiner’s book from 1655. I’ll let the original text explain what is happening here:

“Iohn Wheeler of London, upon his Oath said, that in or about the years 1649 & 1650 being at Newcastle, heard that the Magistrates had sent two of their Sergeants, namely Thomas Sevel, and Cuthbert Nicholson into Scotland to agree with a Scotch-man, who pretended knowledge to finde out Witches by pricking them with pins, to come to Newcastle where he should try such who should be brought to him, and to have twenty shillings a peece for all he could condemn as Witches, and free passage thither and back again.

 (B) When the Sergeants had brought the said Witch-finder on horse-back to Town; the Magistrates sent their Bell-man through the Town, ringing his Bell, and crying, All people that would bring in any complaint against any woman for a Witch, they should be sent for and tryed by the person appointed.

(C) Thirty women were brought into the Town-hall, and stript, and then openly had pins thrust into their bodies, and most of them was found guilty , near twenty seven of them by him and set aside.”

 

There is far too much to describe in detail here. but nearly all the figures are common people of the 1650s. Several things to note here: the simple wrapped coifs on the heads of the hanged women and the back view of their kerchiefs, the hangman stripped to his shirt, the day cap on the bellman and the higher class dress of the witch finder with his cloak and fitted doublet.

 

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November 28, 2013

England’s Grievance Discovered Part Three

From 1655. Refer to part one for a description of the book. Suffice to say these images are securely dated to this publication.

This picture relates to a despute over tobacco duty. Arthur Hessilrige was involved in one case, interceding over a consignment that had supposedly been labelled as foreign and liable for duty when it wasn’t. Here Isabel Orde has her roll of tobacco confiscated whilst she was selling it on the local market.

Isabel is wearing a hat over a coif with a petticoat and apron and a smart kerchief. The ruffian trying to make off with the tobacco has a short-tabbed doublet, breeches and a broad brimmed hat. The chaps around the pack horse are similarly dressed though the guy holding the reins is dressed for the saddle with long boots and nice button decoration on the seams of his breeches.

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November 28, 2013

England’s Grievance Discovered Part Two

Another image from Ralph Gardiner’s publication of 1655.

This picture relates to the illegal discharging of ballast in the Tyne. Seems like it was a well known con to get someone from the Town to swear they had seen a ship dropping stuff in the river and then bring in the master on a charge. I’m still not 100% sure about what then happened, but I think what you had to do was pick a purse hanging on the wall and by cutting it open, the fine was decided upon as the amount held inside that particular purse. The upshot of the description however is that is identifies the picture to have been drawn especially for this publication, as here we can see the master of the ship in question cutting a purse (letter A) and the clerks counting the subsequent fine (B). If the master was unable to pay, then he was put in prison, a state of affairs that no one wanted to see, least of all the Town Mayor!

On the left, the master is swearing his innocence in a cloak to a chap in doublet and breeches. On the right, the witness is swearing the opposite to the Mayor, with his hat reverentially doffed. Notice the Mayor has retained his hat.

 

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November 28, 2013

England’s Grievance Discovered

…in relation to the coal-trade with the map of the river of Tine, and situation of the town and corporation of Newcastle : the tyrannical oppression of those magistrates, their charters and grants, the several tryals, depositions, and judgements obtained against them : with a breviate of several statutes proving repugnant to their actings : with proposals for reducing the excessive rates of coals for the future, and the rise of their grants, appearing in this book by Ralph Gardiner.

This book was published in 1655. Basically the book came about as a result of an argument over monopolies granted by the King in respect of business along the river Tyne. Gardiner had prepared a case whilst he was imprisoned for supplying beer against the monopoly but due to the dissolution of the Rump Parliament he could not present it to Parliament so instead published this long-winded and rather worthy book.

However, to our good fortune there are several rather nice images peppered throughout the pages. This first one illustrates an affray that resulted from a ship’s master obtaining local labour to repair his ship which had run aground near Tynemouth, It seems to have been a rather complicated affair, but it seems that by using cheap carpenters rather than the agreed monopoly holders he was in contravention of the agreement. and hence the mayor sent the proper contractors and the two sergeants to sort it out.

Anyway, the women caught up in the violence are wearing petticoats, bodices aprons and coifs as befits the middling classes and the ruffians with the cudgels are dressed in coats, breeches, hats and shoes.

 

 

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November 27, 2013

Catherine Lucas, Lady Pye

Painted by Henry Giles in 1639, Catherine was the sister of Margaret Cavendish Duchess of Newcastle and spent at least some part of the Civil War in Oxford.  She certainly looks pretty well to do in this painting which is in the National Trust’s care in Bradenham Manor.

She is dressed in her finest black petticoat and bodice over what looks like a brocaded underskirt. Her linen kerchief is layered and like her cuffs is made from very fine see through linen, through which you can see the details of her smock. She is also wearing an outrageously wide brimmed hat over a lace edged coif. Only subtle adornments, a black ribbon holding her kerchief down and an understated coral bracelet on each wrist.

Catherine Lucas

November 26, 2013

Sir Thomas Aston

Picture in the Warrington Museum and Art Gallery painted by an unknown artist. Sir Thomas was a staunch royalist commander and defender of the established Church during the 1640s. The identity of the sitter is not completely certain however, as this chap bears faint resemblance to two other portraits also supposed to be Sir Tom.

Questions of identity apart, here is another example of a 1640s gentleman in his best fashionable black suit. What is particularly fine here is the cutwork lace on his falling band and the cascading tassels on the end of the band strings.

Sir Thomas Aston