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Ball and dinner dresses, February 1840

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Ball and dinner dresses, February 1840

published by Dobbs & Co, published in The Court Magazine and Monthly Critic and Lady's Magazine and Museum, first published in Le Follet, Courrier des Salons, Journal des Modes
hand-coloured etching, line and stipple engraving, published February 1840
8 1/4 in. x 5 7/8 in. (209 mm x 149 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D47855

Artistsback to top

This portraitback to top

Described in the magazine:
Ball and Dinner Dresses - Dress of white crape over white satin. The corsage fits tight to the bust, and has a slight point; the front is entirely covered with folds of crape, meeting regularly in the centre, and forming l'eventail (the fan). The sleeves, à la Venetienne, are nearly open from the shoulder, and have a rich gold embroidery all round. The skirt of the dress is ornamented with three flounces, embroidered at the edges; the top of the corsage is finished by a Berthe in point d'Alençon. The hair is all drawn back from the roots, and formed into three chignons at the back, so low that the lower chignon falls upon the neck. The pretty half cap is composed of a broad pink ribbon, which goes over the top of the head, and may be tied or not under the chin. As may be perceived from the plate, a full double border of blonde, intermixed with flowers or bows of ribbon, is fastened on from a little above the ear, and is brought very low at the sides of the face, the intermediate part of the ribbon going across the top of the head, has a wreath of very small flowers attached to it, and a ribbon finished by a bow in the centre of the chignons, served to keep it in its place on the head. A few long ringlets coming from the sides of the head, fall between the face and the border, and upon the neck. Gold, cord, and tassel, necklace of Cameos set in gold, white kid gloves only long enough to cover the wrists, the tops trimmed with a quilting of ribbon, with two long ends, white satin shoes, fan.
Sitting Figure, Dinner Dress - Coiffure, the same as the one just described, with the difference of having bows of ribbon in the border instead of flowers. Dress of white satin, with a single very deep plume of blonde. Cashmere shawl, black, lined with pink, and embroidered in coloured silks; the piece sloped out of the neck forms the capuchon, or hood; the trimming is a rich chenille fringe. White kid gloves, fan.

Events of 1840back to top

Current affairs

Victoria marries her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; he is given the title of Prince Consort.
The Penny Black stamp is introduced by Rowland Hill; the first pre-paid, self-adhesive stamp, it marks the start of the modern postal system.
The start of the Irish potato famine, which by the time of its peak in 1851, had caused the deaths of one million, and contributed to the sharp rise of emigration from Ireland to England and America.

Art and science

Beau Brummel, the fashion leader responsible for sparking the culture of 'Dandyism', dies of syphilis.
The first stone is laid on the new Houses of Parliament, based on the gothic designs by the architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. The old buildings had burned down in 1834, following a blaze caused by burning wooden tallies used by the Exchequer to calculate tax.


The Afghans surrender to Britain during the Afghan-British war (1839-42). The war was sparked by British fear over Russian influence in Afghanistan, with the British East India Company resolving to depose the Afghan leader, Dost Muhammad, who was insistent on Afghan independence, and restore the former leader Shoja Shah.
The Maoris yield sovereignty of New Zealand under the Treaty of Waitangi.

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