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Autumn dresses, October 1840

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Autumn 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 in. x 5 7/8 in. (204 mm x 149 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D47865

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Described in the magazine:
We present our readers with two of the newest and most fashionable autumn dresses. The dress of the standing figure is of lavender silk, the corsage made up to the throat, and to fit the bust as closely as it is possible. Manches Amadis, (Amadis sleeves) these it will be perceived are cut with two seams, like the sleeves of a man's coat, and are sloped out according to the exact shape of the arm, the elbow fitting precisely. They are also put into the dress without the slightest gather or wrinkle at the shoulder. A deep parement (cuff) is put on at the wrist, and turns up much in the fashion of the old Spanish glove. Three rows of silk gimp or braid ornament the front of this dress. The centre one goes from the throat to the hem at the bottom of the dress, the other two come from the shoulder forming the V on the corsage, and are likewise continued down the skirt. The round flat collar is of blonde, as well as the ruffles, which consist of a frill falling over the hand. The bonnet is of satin, and trimmed with the same; it is very small and sits quite round to the face. Green silk scarf fringed at the ends. Hair in bands and braids enfer à cheval. Black varnished shoes, pale straw colour kid gloves.
Second or Sitting Figure - This dress is a modification of that just described. The corsage is demi-decolletée or only half-high, and although it is made to fit the shape as tightly as the other, it is sloped away en coeur in front. The sleeve is again the Amadis sleeve, with the two seams, and the elbow sloped out, but the parement is by no means so outré as the other, which, we must confess, reminds us tant soit peu, of a gauntlet, certainly no fitting appendage to a lady's wrist. This one is a simple cuff, with a point on one side, and the point turned up. This ornament on the bottom of the sleeves precludes the necessity of a muslin or cambric cuff, but we decidedly give the preference to the latter. The skirt of the dress is trimmed with three tucks, cut on the cross way of the material; they are put on with a small piping (liseré). The novel and very elegant canezou, is of India or other clear muslin. It is made à coulisse (with drawings), and is cut only half high at the neck, to match the dress. This canezou has an exceedingly short sleeve, which only just covers the shoulder; it is finished by two lace frills; a fall of lace goes entirely round the canezou, both at the neck and outside. We must not omit to add that it crosses a little in front. Fine leghorn bonnet, trimmed with cerise (cherry colour) reibout. A very narrow band of velvet ribbon goes round the top of the crown, and a broad one out and inside the edge of the front. This latter band must be cut out of the piece of velvet as it follows the shape of the front of the bonnet, without a wrinkle. A bunch of white feathers tipped with cherry colour droops at the left side. Pink oinbulle shot with white; very pale paille kid gloves.

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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