The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Details of dress, 1839

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Buy a print Make a donation Close
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

Details of dress, 1839

published in The Court Magazine and Monthly Critic and Lady's Magazine and Museum
hand-coloured etching, line and stipple engraving, published April 1839
9 3/8 in. x 6 1/8 in. (237 mm x 154 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D47771

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Top centre bust, marked No. 3, and lower one marked the same. Blonde cap à la paysanne, trimmed with yellow ribbons. The form of this cap will be best seen by the lower bust; the head-piece is deep, in the style of the mob cap, and is sufficiently sloped away in front to make it sit far off the brow; the cawl is round and rather small, and gathered all round. The border, which is of blonde, becomes deep at the sides of the face, and continues so round the back to form the bavolet; just below the left ear it forms a kind of rosette with two bows of ribbon in the centre; at the right side it is narrow and mixed with ends of ribbon, en oreilles de caniche: across the brow the border is fancifully intermixed with the trimming. A ribbon goes round the head-piece and is finished in a large bow over the bavolet at back. The cap is not tied under the chin, nor has it strings. Hair in bandeaux lisses. Dress of white or pink satin; corsage à pointe, with a deep tucker, à la Louis XIII, which likewise comes to a point in front. Plain, tight, short sleeve with a deep blonde ruffle; the sleeve of the lower bust has two puffs or sabots at the bottom of the plain sleeve; half long white kid gloves with a ruche at top.
The two busts marked No. 1, at top of plate - Coiffure à la Chinoise - In this singular style of coiffure, the hair over the brow is taken back from the roots, and formed into braids and rouleaux at the lower part of the back of the head, where an immense bunch of ostrich feathers is also placed. A wreath of full-blown roses (forming the mattes or braids à la Clotilde is at each side of the face, encircling the ears. We cannot exactly recommend this style of coiffure to our fair readers, although we consider it our duty to display it to them as it has been adopted by several of our juvenile belles at some of the late splendid réunions in the French capital. Dress of pink or apple-green crape or gauze, tight corsage à pointe laced up at back; plain tucker of rich blonde; short sleeves in double or triple sabots, finished with double ruffles à la Louis XIV; white kid gloves with a ruche of ribbon at top. Clear cambric handkerchief.
The two lower busts marked No. 2, in walking costume. Dress of white muslin; corsage demi décolletée (half high). A pelerine which leaves the neck open in front, covers the corsage of the dress; the pelerine is round at the back, but descends quite as low as the waist; it has a worked trimming all round, deep at back, and on the shoulders, and sloped off gradually towards the waist in front, a deep falling frill of the same goes round the neck. Sleeves full all the way down, finished by a deep cuff turned up with a narrow frill at the edge next the sleeve; pink ceinture tied in front. Hat of pink or paille poux de soie, the front quite round and thrown up (tres évasée), the crown small at top and not high; a full plume of feathers, the exact shade of the hat, is placed at the left side. The ribbons are of grosgrain, and very wide. A wreath of full blown roses without foliage crosses the brow beneath the front of the hat. Hair brought in smooth bands as low as the sides of the face and then formed into wide braids, en fer à cheval, two at each side, this is a becoming style of coiffure particularly well adapted to a hat, as it amply supplies the want of either curls or blonde. The straw colour hat gives the back of the pink one. The second figure (2) wears a chale mantelet of shot silk, gorge de pigeon.
Pelerine Décolletée - This pelerine is to be worn with a low dress, as according to the present fashion it leaves the neck much exposed. It may be either pointed or rounded at back, and as may be perceived by the plate it only meets at the waist in front, where it is finished by a very full bow of ribbons; entirely round the pelerine is a bullion trimming, in which a broad pink ribbon is inserted. The pelerine is of clear cambric or India muslin elegantly embroidered. Revers [....]

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.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.


Our channel

View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.

Sit back and watch

Artist and sitter interviews

Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.

Explore behind the scenes

Sleeping Awake

Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.

Hear our story