WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Knight of the Rainbow

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Knight of the Rainbow

The Flower must not blame the Bee —
That seeketh his felicity
Too often at her door —

But teach the Footman from Vevay —
Mistress is “not at home” — to say —
To people — any more!
~Emily Dickinson, 206

They were to be tall, handsome, young, strong, and silent. They were to be seen and admired, but not heard. They were there for the heavy lifting (of tea trays, trunks, and whatnot).

They were there to pester the maids.

The Jealous Maids by John Collett, published by Robert Sayer and engraved by Robert Lowery L.aurie on 2 March 1772, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Observe the elaborate livery worn by the male servant, a froth of lace at his throat, his waistcoat  and facings festooned with gold. Even his buttons are gold!

Knight of the Rainbow

A footman: from the variety of colours in the liveries and trimming of gentlemen of that cloth.

Many others have gone into great detail on the lives, both personal and professional, of male domestic servants. I won’t rehash the particulars, but will include links below for those of a researching mind. Instead, I propose to show some prime examples of those noble Knights of the Rainbow.

Unlike female domestics, males were arrayed in a variety of fabrics and colors, with no shortage of embellishments and gee-gaws to ornament their costumes. The more public the servant, the more ostentatious and ornate his livery. Colors and style were as distinctive to families as was the crest on their carriage.

Footman Livery, made for the attendants of the 3rd Earl of Ashburnham of Ashburnham Place, Sussex, in 1829 for his installation as Knight of the Garter, at Manchester Art Gallery.

From the Manchester Art Gallery label:

Coat: Light blue-green cloth trimmed with red cloth and wool braid with uncut pile woven with coat of arms and coronet in red, yellow and black on white; lined with red glazed twilled wool; high standing collar; fronts each in one section, fastening at chest with 2 hooks and eyes, 17 metal buttons on right edge from neck to hem, cord imitating buttonholes on left, pocket at waist each side with shaped flap over three buttons; back in two shaped sections with centre back vent; long sleeves in two sections lined with white cotton, collar and turned-back cuffs of red cloth, strip of red cloth each side of front and centre back opening; braid on all edges and seams, outlining pockets and in chevrons down outside of sleeves; two loops white, red and yellow silk cord with metal points attached to right shoulder under crest embroidered in coloured silks on red cloth;
Breeches: Red cloth; shaped waistband lacing over gusset at centre back, fastening at centre front with 3 plain buttons under flap fastening with two buttons on waistband and one of centre front buttons; pocket each side with small button at corner on hip; narrow pocket in waistband on right of centre front; horn buttons for braces each side front and back; legs fastening at outer knee with four buttons and coloured silk braid kneeband with slot for buckle.
Waistcoat: red cloth lined with white cotton; front and skirt faced with red glazed wool; fronts each in one section fastening to waist with small metal buttons, buttons continue above and below fastening, high standing collar, fronts cut away at angle below waist, pocket each side of waist with shaped flap over three buttons; back in two sections, centre back vent; two pairs of linen tape ties at waist; collar, fronts and pockets edged with same braid as coat.

Footman’s Livery Uniform circa 1840-1860, via Manchester Art Gallery.

From the Manchester Art Gallery label:

Coat; Made from a dark blue cloth. Front edge curved out over chest fastening with hook and eye, slit pocket inside left front. Six brass buttons with crest of rampant lion on right edge, braid imitating buttonholes on left. Low standing collar of yellow cloth. Centre sections extending to form centre back skirt, open at centre below waist. Side sections padded and lined black cotton satin. Long sleeves with turned-back cuffs of yellow cloth. Edges outlined wool braid with uncut pile with geometric pattern in blue and yellow. Collar and cuffs trimmed smaller button.
Breeches: Made from yellow wool plush, partly lined twilled cotton. Straight waistband lacing at CB over gusset. Fastening at CF with three plain buttons under flap the whole width of front fastening with four buttons on waistband. Slit pocket each side of fastening under flap. Long narrow pocket in right front waistband. Buttons for braces at side front and CB. Legs fastening at outer knee with three brass buttons and kneeband with small brass buckle.
Waistcoat: Made from yellow cloth, unbleached linen back, lined with cream twilled cotton. High neck with low standing collar. Fastening with five brass buttons. Pocket shaped flap each side of waist.

Livery Coat circa 1875-1890, via Manchester Art Gallery.

From the Manchester Art Gallery label:

Coat: Blue wool, embroidered with braid and frogging. Purple blue cloth, braid-embroidered, lined dark blue twilled wool; fronts each in one section to waist extending to side back, fastening edge to edge at centre front with 6 hooks and eyes to v-neck with high standing collar; converging row of 6 silk-covered buttons each side of front; skirt fronts in one flared section extending to side back, side back edge stitched down onto back section under stitched-down pleat headed with button; false pocket each side of waist with shaped flap over three buttons; back in two shaped sections extending below waist to form centre back skirt, open below waist at centre; long sleeves in two sections, separate cuff sections, lined glazed linen; all edges, collar, cuffs, and side back seams outlined with wool braid in two shades of blue with diamond pattern in uncut pile; narrow blue silk braid in elaborate scrolling designs forming borders round the wider braid and frogging round buttons from neck to waist; lining padded and quilted on shoulders and under arms; pockets in lining each side of skirt and left breast.

Random specimens of livery

There is often a glut of information (and mis-information) on the internet, and the following costumes came without descriptors. But they were too pretty to pass.

Livery, early 19th Century, Italian, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Livery, early 19th Century, Italian, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sleeved livery waistcoat, early 19th century.

Ceremonial livery, Court Footman, late 19th Century, Hermitage Museum.

Ceremonial uniform of the Chief Chamberlain, late 19th Century, Hermitage Museum.

Not everyone was impressed by the finery and frippery, however.

Country Characters. No. 4: Footman by Thomas Rowlandson 30 August 1799, Royal Collection Trust.

Thomas Rowlandson and his well-honed satire: A conceited and “dandy-fied” Town footman stands admiring himself in a mirror, much to the disapproval of the country housemaid and butler. He is sure his charms and posy of flowers will win him the admiration of the country chits at the local pub; the monkey on a chain, imitating the footman, is certainly awed.


WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Dandy Grey Russet

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Dandy Grey Russet

Spring has sprung here in Texas, and the colors are phenomenal this year. We’ve had enough early season rain to make everything go supernova on the color spectrum.

Colors during the Regency period were no less fantastic, and had the names to match. From the pale watercolors of the young misses to the vibrant primaries of waistcoats and married ladies gowns, there was no shortage of shades and hues to drape the beau monde (although this term was likely not use in Regency England, but it sounds pretty and fits the context, so I’m going for it).

1807 Le Beau Monde plate

Dandy Grey Russet (noun)

A dirty brown. His coat’s dandy grey russet, the colour of the Devil’s nutting bag.

A few years ago, author Collette Cameron penned A Regency Palette – Colors of the Regency Era, a definitive list of fabric tints and pigments of the Regency, at Embracing Romance. Names like Jonquil and Cameleopard are far more evocative than mere yellow and beige. Even the dirty brown of the Word of the Week sounds spiffy when given the thieves’ slang treatment.

Behold the colors of the Regency.

Jonquil: yellow (daffodil)
Primrose and Evening Primrose: shades of yellow
Puce: a purplish pink (for some reason I always think puce is green)
Pomona Green: a cheery apple green

1816 Gothic-influence, via Ackermann’s Repository.

Coquelicot: sort of a poppy red
Emerald Green: a bluish-green, almost aqua
Cerulean Blue: a muted, almost grayish blue – but not popular during the Regency era (ack!)
Blossom: a light pink
Bottle Green: just like it sounds
Mazurine Blue: a mixture of indigo and violet
Slate: a mix between gray and lavender

London, June 1799 fashions, plate no. 16, printed for R. Phillips

Other Popular Regency Colors

Apollo: bright gold (1823)
Aurora: chili-colored (1809)

1805-6 Pelisses, via Ackermann’s Repository.

Aetherial: sky blue (1820)
Azure: sky blue (1820)
Barbel: sky blue (1820)
Cameleopard: French beige (1825)
Clarence: sky blue (1820)

1804 Walking Dress with Pelisse, via Ackermann’s Repository.

Devonshire Brown: mastic (1812)
Dust of Ruins: squirrel (1822)
Egyptian Brown: mace (1809)
Esterhazy: silver grey (1822)
Isabella: cream (1822)
Lavender: between heliotrope and parma (1824)
Marie Louise: calamine blue (1812)

1812 Pelisse and Carriage/Walking Coat, via Ackermann’s Repository.

Mexican: steel blue (1817)
Morone: peony red (1811)
Princess Elizabeth Lilac: Alice blue (1812)
Russia Flame: pale mastic (1811)
Spring: Cossack green (1810)
Terre D’Egypte: brick red (1824)
Parma Violet: violet (1811)

1809, Half-dress, via Ackermann’s Repository.