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Ball or evening dress, 1839

14 of 16 portraits matching these criteria:

- subject matching 'Fashion Plates: Hair - Classical Greek hairstyles'

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Ball or evening dress, 1839

published in The Court Magazine and Monthly Critic and Lady's Magazine and Museum
hand-coloured etching, line and stipple engraving, published March 1839
7 1/2 in. x 5 7/8 in. (191 mm x 150 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D47754

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Described in the magazine:
Dress à l’Antique of black velvet. The corsage is low à pointe, and with five rouleaux or folds going entirely round the bosom of the dress (see both figures in plate). The black sleeves are very short, quite tight, and sloped up to a point in front (see plate); underneath appears a short full satin sleeve forming a puff (à l’Antique) at the opening of the black one; this sleeve is tightened round the lower part of the arm with a gold cord, whence depend two long tassels, and the sleeve is terminated with two very deep falls of blonde, forming ruffles à la Louis XV. The skirt of the dress is open in front in the ancient style, and is trimmed down the two sides with cameos set in gold, placed a large and a small one alternately (see plate). Beneath this very elegant dress is one of white satin, ornamented with three rich flounces of blonde; as they are very deep they are put on so as to leave no distance between them. The front hair is in full tufts of ringlets, much in the Mancini style, except that the curls fall rather lower; the back in braids à la Grecque falling as low as possible at the back of the neck. Two ostrich feathers are placed at back and droop towards the front of the head; a crimson velvet flower is over the curls on the left temple, with a gold stiletto towards the back; a gold feronnière with a large ornament of jewellery finishes this very elegant head-dress. Round the neck is a massive gold chain, whence depends a brooch. Long white kid gloves, with a puffing of blonde at top. White satin shoes. Bouquet.
Second figure gives the back of the coiffure and dress. The robe is of pink satin.

Events of 1839back to top

Current affairs

The Bedchamber crisis strains relations between the government and the monarchy, after Queen Victoria refuses to dismiss her Whig-appointed ladies of the bedchamber at the request of the new, Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. Peel resigns and Melbourne returns as Prime Minister.
The Grand National is first held at the Aintree race course, won by the horse Lottery, and the first Henley Royal Regatta, the rowing event, is held on the Thames.

Art and science

The French and British scientists Louis Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot separately publicise their experiments with the new form of photography.
The prolific journalist Harriet Martineau publishes her three decker novel Deerbrook, the story of middle class country life.


The first Opium War with China is sparked after the British government refuses to try six British soldiers accused of killing a Chinese man protecting a temple from looters. Relations were strained as Britain had promoted the drug opium in China to boost trade. Winning the war, Britain secured vital trading rights.
African captives aboard the Spanish ship La Amistad revolt, resulting in a highly publicised court case.

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