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Race ball dresses, October 1840

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Race ball dresses, October 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 October 1840
8 1/2 in. x 5 7/8 in. (215 mm x 148 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D47860

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Described in the magazine:
By desire of several of our fair readers, we offer to them this month two of the newest and most fashionable models of ball dresses, admirably adapted to the race balls. The first is a dress of pink velours épinglé (Terry velvet) the corsage fits tight to the bust, is décoletée, (low) and has an excessively long point, indeed much longer than any we have yet seen. The front of the body is cut in four pieces, it may be observed with a seam in the centre. The sleeves are tight and plain, finished by engageantes, that fall very low upon the lower arm. The skirt is ornamented with a splendid flounce of guipure over a quarter of a yard in depth, this flounce is headed by a rouleau formed of twisted lace. This is a novel idea, but has a very fine effect. The berthe is of guipure to match the flounce. The coiffure consists of a splendid diadem, whence depend blonde lappets at each side, intermixed with marabouts. The hair is in plain bands, brought very low at the sides of the face, and turned up again. White kid gloves, so short that they only cover the wrists; the tops are trimmed with a quilling of silk tulle, large Antique fan, white satin shoes very much pointed at the toes.
2nd Figure - Dress of rich white damask corsage low and à pointe, with deep folds of crèpe lisse forming drapery. The corsage is much sloped off, at the centre of the front. The sleeves are tight, and reach nearly to the elbow, where they are finished by a new description of ruffle or engageante. It will be perceived that the crepe lisse of which it it composed, is double and cut on the cross way of the material. A silk cord and tassels seems to retain it in its place on the sleeve. The skirt of this dress opens quite at the left side. The three puffings which commence about half way down are of crèpe lisse, a twisted silk cord likewise runs down that side of the dress, and a silk cordelière hangs in front from the point of the corsage. The hair is in bands as far as the temples, the remainder in a broad braid, the pretty and becoming half cap of blonde, it is worn very far back on the head, and has a demi couronne of flowers entirely across the part that goes over the head. Two white ostrich feathers tinged with pink are put in very low at each side, and with the short blonde lappets droop over the neck. White kid gloves, (very short) the tops trimmed with a puffing of crepe lisse. Embroidered handkerchief 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.

International

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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