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'The Fashions'. Ball dress, March 1863

18 of 40 portraits by Samuel Orchart Beeton

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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'The Fashions'. Ball dress, March 1863

published by Samuel Orchart Beeton, published in The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, first published in Le Moniteur de la Mode
hand-coloured etching and line engraving, published March 1863
8 1/4 in. x 5 3/8 in. (211 mm x 135 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D48002

Artistsback to top

This portraitback to top

Described in the magazine:
Ball Dress. - The hair is frizzed in tiny curls over the forehead, and is arranged in a long bag behind. The headdress consists of blue feathers and convolvulus. The dress is of amber moire, gracefully looped over a white silk under-skirt covered with tulle puffings. The bodice is in amber moire, rounded off in front, showing a white silk point. Behind, it terminates in a basque. This basque and the top of the bodice are trimmed with lace, headed by cordons of blue convolvulus. The front of the amber skirt on each side is trimmed with lace and flowers, and, where it is caught down to the white skirt, large bunches of blue feathers are introduced,
Second Figure. - The sortie de bal, or evening cloak, is the principal feature in this toilet, which we wish to introduce to our readers' notice. It is made of scarlet cashmere, trimmed with an amber binding, and is cut somewhat in the shape of a shawl. Over this a short circular lace cape, with a hood, is arranged, which may be thrown over the head when required. We need scarcely say that this cloak is most becoming. The dress is of white silk, ornamented with lace flounces.

Events of 1863back to top

Current affairs

The opening of the world's first underground railway, with the Metropolitan Railway running trains between Bishop's Street, Padington and Farringdon. Work had begun in 1860, using the 'cut-and-cover' method of construction. The Metropolitan line inspired the construction of other underground railways - the Parisian 'Metro' took its name from the line.
The Football Association is founded.

Art and science

Julia Margaret Cameron takes up photography, taking portraits of some of the most celebrated figures of the day, with her romantic style capturing the sense of nostalgia and longing that characterised the age.
Kingsley's Water Babies; A Fairy Tale for Children is published, the hugely popular tale of drowned chimney sweep Tom's moral education in the river world of the water babies. It inspired the 1978 film starring James Mason.


At an international conference, the Geneva Public Welfare Society calls on the sixteen nations present to form voluntary units to help the wartime wounded. The society, comprised of five Swiss citizens and led by Henri Dunant, who had been deeply affected by the casualties he had witnessed at the Battle of Solferino, became the National Red Cross Societies, adopting the emblem of a red cross on white background.

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