Posts tagged ‘bandstring’

February 28, 2017

Anthropometamorphosis Appendix 1

Exhibiting the Pedigree of the English Gallant.

Continuing my discussion of John Bulwer’s book from 1653, I’ve skipped to the back and the appendix where as he says in the text:

“Upon the Relation of this intended Practicall Metamorphosis, I perceived that all men thought me to be necessarily ingaged to touch upon the transformation and deformity of Apparell; the thing offering it selfe so naturally, every Scene almost affording some emergent occasion or other for such a Discourse. Which conceit, I confesse, I had admitted, but that I desired to keep close to my proper Argument. A little therefore to answer expectation, I thought good to annex this Appendix, wherein I shall a little explaine this Proverbe, God makes, and the Tailor shapes.”

It’s strong stuff, but his theory seems to be that whatever strange fashion had been thought up in England, there was a foreign country where it had already been thought of. For instance painting your face, using beauty patches and wearing large earrings.

His captions, not mine by the way, They’re not terribly PC, but then neither is most of this book. The chap with the earrings has also waxed his moustache I suspect and is wearing a smart linen band over his doublet.

He compares slashed doublets (nice 1630s style one in the woodcut) to tribesmen in Africa who use body scars as a tribal marking, and goes on to discuss the mid seventeenth century lowering of the waist line

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“When we wore short-wasted Doublets, and but a little lower than our Breasts, we would maintaine by militant reasons that the waste was in its right place as Nature intended it: but when after (as lately) we came to weare them so long wasted, yea, almost so low as our Privities, then began we to condemn the former fashion as fond, intollerable, and deformed, and to commend the later as comely, handsome, and commendable.”

This all sounds very familiar, fashion seemed to change as much then as it does now.

Then he moves on the the ladies. He’s no less scathing, and yes those are boobies (low cut bodice, nicely dressed hair):

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“That upstart impudence and innovation of naked breasts, and cutting or hallowing downe the neck of womens garments below their shoulders, an exorbitant and shamefull enormity and habit, much worne by our semi-Adamits, is another meere peece of refined Barbarisme, as if it were done in designe, as one saith, whose thoughts were neare upon contemporary with my conceit, to facilitate an accommodation with those American Ladies in the Court of King Atabiliba,or Pocahuncas “

My favourite part still is the shoes, but I will leave that for another post.

 

 

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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?

 

anthrometamorphosis-plate

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 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