Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England, the fashion exhibition at the Brighton Pavilion this year, features a quilted printed (chintz) banyan, or men’s dressing robe worn over a shirt and knee breeches.
Ah, June, a popular month for weddings. And during the Regency, quite a number of those weddings took place at the small village of Gretna Green, the first hamlet over the English border in Scotland. Last year, Jane Lark, whose most recent Regency is The Scandalous Love of a Duke, spent some time in modern-day Gretna Green. Today, she shares with us what she learned about the famous, or infamous, Scottish capital of clandestine wedding.
What really happened in Gretna Green …
A Review By Cheryl Bolen
Do authors feel obligated to provide positive reviews of the work of other authors, or do they feel a stronger obligation to be honest about their opinion of the book they have just read? Find out for yourself as you read Cheryl Bolen’s review of the one and only biography of Mary Nisbet, the woman whose husband "liberated" the famed marbles from the Parthenon in Greece.
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
Tea parties are common events in innumerable Regency romance novels. Countless characters in attendance at those fictional events take sugar in their tea. But the manner in which they take that sugar is not always historically accurate.
Will that be lumps or cubes?
An amazing announcement from the Bath Chronicle and read more of their article….
An unfinished novel which Jane Austen started writing when she was living in Bath has been sold at auction for £993,000.
“One theory is that the storyline was too close to home, too autobiographical. Also, she wasn’t particularly settled or happy when living in Bath. There were financial problems, her father died when she was living here, so it has been suggested that she had a lull in her writing when she was here because she wasn’t settled.”
The only surviving manuscripts of Austen’s completed novels are two draft chapters of Persuasion, which are kept at the British Library, her younger work Lady Susan, which is at the Morgan Library in New York, and Sanditon, which is at King’s College, Cambridge.
Ms Newton added that she was not surprised The Watsons had sold for such a large sum of money. She said: “Original Jane Austen-related artefacts would always go for a lot of money. There has been a recent surge in popularity and there is so much interest in her life and work. ……There aren’t many artefacts from her life, so these kind of pieces give us a real insight into how she worked.”
Experts believe Emma – the headstrong and independent-minded heroine of the novel – is based on the author herself.
Following on from our last exploration of the what every historian ‘Must See’ when in New York City for the Romance Writers of America conference, we take another peek at the Frick Collection. Turkish Taste at the Court of Marie-Antoinette will be exhibited from June 8, 2011, through September 11, 2011.
It was during the late eighteenth century at the court of Marie-Antoinette that the Turkish style reached new heights, inspiring some of the period’s most original creations, namely boudoirs or cabinets decorated entirely in the Turkish manner.
Or for those interested in earlier periods of history, In a New Light: Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert is displayed through August 28, 2011.
- The Frick Collection New York City (thebeaumondeworld.wordpress.com)
We hope you enjoy Part 2 of Victoria and Albert Museum all Regency era fans will love.
Thomas Hope’s startling juxtaposition of styles included Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Indian elements, as well as his own version of the French Empire style. Classical sculpture and vases were displayed alongside modern paintings and sculpture. Most striking of all was the inventive and exotic furniture that Hope designed specifically for the house.
The Egyptian Room
The Egyptian Room was one of the most inventive interiors of its date in Europe. Here Hope displayed his belief in the importance of the ancient Egyptians to the origins of western culture.Mingling genuine pieces of Egyptian sculpture with exotic furniture designed by himself in an Egyptian manner, he also exploited his novel colour theories. The walls and furniture, he explained, were in the ‘pale yellow and bluish green of the Egyptian pigments, relieved by masses of black and of gold.’
The Statue Gallery
In the Statue Gallery, Hope placed his finest pieces of antique sculpture. The design was austere, with top-lighting, a coffered ceiling and yellow-painted walls. To avoid ‘interfering’ with the contour and purity of the white marble statues, Hope left the walls ‘perfectly plain’. Although Hope believed that many of the sculptures were Greek, they are now recognised as later Roman versions. In the past, critics decried these works as copies, but today Roman sculpture is seen as having value in its own right, as do the interventions of 18th century restorers. These restorations, seen in many of Hope’s antique statues, were the work of dealers catering for the Grand Tour market.
The Vase Room
There were four Vase Rooms at Duchess Street, in which Hope displayed his vast collection of Greek figured vases. The vases, he wrote, ‘relate chiefly to the Bacchanalian rites connected with the representations of mystic death and regeneration’. He therefore designed shelves and cabinets decorated with carved heads of the bearded Bacchus. Also, since many vases had been discovered in tombs near Naples, one room had ‘recesses, imitating the ancient Columbaria, or receptacles of Cinerary urns’. The exhibition features an interior that evokes the Vase Rooms at Duchess Street. The bronze lamp and mahogany display cupboard in this recreated interior came from the Third Vase Room, where furnishings ‘of a quiet hue and of a sepulchral cast’ matched the vases.
The Aurora Room
This theatrical interior was one of Hope’s most inventive and colourful creations at Duchess Street. Mirrors reflected the central feature – the statue of Aurora, goddess of dawn. The walls were hung with ‘satin curtains … of the fiery hue which fringes the clouds just before sunrise’, below ‘a ceiling of cooler sky blue.’ The colours used in the display are an attempt to reproduce faithfully the original decorative scheme. They are also based on surviving contemporary rooms, including those created by Sir John Soane, who visited Duchess Street in 1802.
At the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, there is a wonderful summary of fashion in the 19th century. There’s a snippet below and more is available at their site.
By the early 19th century men’s fashions had also undergone a radical change. The coat still finished in long tails at the back but was cut higher in front. The waist-length square-cut waistcoat showed beneath it. The lining of the shoulders and upper chest of the coat was sometimes quilted to improve the fit. In the early 19th century some dandies wore boned corsets to give them a small waist.
Gradually men adopted long trousers rather than knee breeches. Trousers became increasingly fashionable in the first quarter of the 19th century. At first they were only worn for day and informal dress but by the 1820s they were acceptable for evening wear. Breeches continued to be worn at court.
The tall hat from the late 18th century was still worn and developed into the top hat which was worn for day and formal dress throughout the 19th century. Hair was carefully styled into a windswept look or worn short and curled.
During the second half of the 19th century men retained the white waistcoat and black tail-coat and trousers of the early 19th century for evening wear. For day wear they wore a frock coat with straight trousers, a short waistcoat and a shirt with a high stiff collar. The single- or double-breasted frock coat fitted quite closely to the torso and had a waist seam. The skirts were straight and finished at mid-thigh or below. The front of the coat was square cut. Hair was still styled but by the late 19th century it was short and cut close to the head. Many men had beards and moustaches.
As the 19th century progressed women’s dress gradually revealed the actual form of the body. In the 1820s and 1830s the waistline deepened, returning to its natural position. As the natural waist returned the bodice required a tighter fit and in contrast the skirt became fuller and bell-shaped. There were several different sleeve styles but short puffed sleeves were generally worn for evening and long sleeves for day. Corsets continued to be worn. These were lightly boned and quilted, with a deep busk. Several layers of petticoats with frilled hems, sometimes of horsehair, were worn to support the full skirts. Some petticoats of the 1840s were feather-quilted. Later examples of the 1850s and 1860s were made of ‘crin’ and steel hoops. The term ‘crinoline’ is derived from the French word crin which means horsehair.
Bonnets or hats were worn outdoors and linen caps indoors. During the 1820s hair styles became very elaborate with raised top knots and the crowns of bonnets or hats were designed to accommodate them. By the middle of the century, by contrast, hairstyles had become smooth with a central parting finished with ringlets on either side of the face and a small bun at the back or simply swept back from the face to a chignon (a mass of hair arranged on a pad at the back of the head and held in place with a net or snood). Bonnets and hats continued to be worn until the 1860s when small, elegant styles appeared which simply perched on top of the head.
The Jane Austen Centre is a permanent exhibition which tells the story of Jane’s Bath experience – the effect living there had on her and her writing.
Who wants to go? I do!
So come and have a look with me.
Jane Austen is perhaps the best known and best loved of Bath’s many famous residents and visitors. She paid two long visits here towards the end of the eighteenth century, and from 1801 to 1806 Bath was her home. Her intimate knowledge of the city is reflected in two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, which are largely set in Bath.
The city is still very much as Jane Austen knew it, preserving in its streets, public buildings and townscapes the elegant well-ordered world that she portrays so brilliantly in her novels. Now the pleasure of exploring Jane Austen’s Bath can be enhanced by visiting the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street. Here, in a Georgian town house in the heart of the city, the visitor can find out more about Bath in Jane Austen’s time and the importance of Bath in her life and work.
The Exhibition Information about the Centre’s permanent exhibition
The Regency Tea Rooms Award winning Tea Rooms up on the 2nd floor of the Centre
Jane Austen Walking tours Take a magical trip around the city with us
Jane Austen Quiz Test yourself with our online quiz
Free e-newsletter Keep up to date with the latest Jane Austen news.
I love peeking into Jane Austen’s World to see the latest on Regency Fashion. Whenever there is an opening, I’ll post another fascinating item.
Todays is a Banyan. Enjoy!
Regency Fashion: Banyan, a man’s dressing gown
When at home, a gentleman would change into an informal knee-length dressing gown known as a banyan, and wear it around his family at breakfast, playing games, such as cards or backgammon, and while reading in his library or writing letters. One can readily imagine Mr. Bennet wearing a banyan in his study, and most definitely Mr. Woodhouse (image below), as he sat by the fire reading a newspaper.
The banyan was a loose, full kimono style in the early 18th century, but later evolved into a more fitted style with set-in sleeves, similar to a man’s coat. It was known as an Indian gown, nightgown, morning gown, or dressing gown. First used as a type of robe, it was originally worn for leisure and in at-home situations; but came to be worn as a coat out-of-doors, in the street, or for business. Many gentlemen had their portraits made while wearing banyans. They were made from all types of fabrics in cotton, silk, or wool (Cunningham, 1984).