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Walking dress, November 1839

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Walking dress, November 1839

published by Dobbs & Co, published in The Court Magazine and Monthly Critic and Lady's Magazine and Museum
hand-coloured etching, line and stipple engraving, published November 1839
9 3/8 in. x 6 1/8 in. (238 mm x 154 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D47767

Artistsback to top

This portraitback to top

Described in The Court Magazine:
White satin capotte. The front is made to sit almost straight up, and is quite round to the face nearly meeting under the chin, where it is almost entirely sloped off; the crown instead of lying flat, is puffed in the style of the cawl of a cap; a row of narrow blonde goes round the front, and a bunch of roses is placed at the left side, two full-blown roses are also under each side of the front of the bonnet. Dress of lilac silk with two flounces, the corsage is half-high (demi-décolletée), and the sleeves full to the wrist; black silk manteau, lined and trimmed with green chiné (clouded) silk; the manteau is, according to the present mode, only half high (like a dress) in the neck; the corsage à pièces, fits nearly tight to the bust, in the form of a palatine cape. When the cloak is made of any woollen material, this piece is generally velvet, in the present instance it is of silk; the skirt of the manteau is full all round, and is continued at the waist by a cord and tassel; the sleeves, if they may be so called, are pieces, the entire length of the cloak, put on with a great deal of fulness on the shoulders, but they are only attached to the cloak at top, under the second row or trimming, the arm-holes are quite towards the front; the trimming, a facing of the same silk as the lining, is put in bands upon the corsage, giving it the appearance of two capes; a double row goes down the front and another from top to bottom of each sleeve; collar of guipure, fastened in front with a large brooch; yellow kid gloves; cambric ruffles; black varnished leather shoes; hair in bandeaux.
The Second Figure gives the back of the cloak, as well as that of the capotte. Lavender silk dress.

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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