WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ All St. Audrey

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ All St. Audrey

How’s everyone doing? I hope we’re all staying home, washing our hands, keeping safe distances, and making good decisions. In crazy times, I’m reminded of the immortal words of President Whitmore in Independence Day.

In no way do I mean to be flippant or make light of the real risks running rampant in our world…but I do think humor has its place in keeping us sane and grounded in our new – and hopefully temporary – reality.

In the meantime, in my little corner of the internet, let’s look at some more beautiful things from history. This week: ten years of promenade, or walking dresses, from the Regency era. Just because.

All St. Audrey

A term said to be derived from the shrine and altar of St. Audrey (an Isle of Ely saintess), which for finery exceeded all others thereabouts, so as to become proverbial; whence any fine dressed man or woman said to be all St Audrey.

Walking Dress, 1803, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1804, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1805, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1806, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1807, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1808, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1809, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1810, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1811, La Belle Assemblee.

Walking Dress, 1812, La Belle Assemblee.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Nugging Dress

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Nugging Dress

As July pulls to a close, so do my posts on ladies fashion, and it seems rather fitting to end on those on the outer rim, whether they be behind the time or ‘those of whom we do not speak in polite circles.’

Nugging Dress

An out-of-the-way old-fashioned dress, or rather a loose kind of dress, denoting a courtesan.

The National Portrait Gallery has a fine biography of Emma Hamilton, the daughter of a Cheshire blacksmith who changed her name and became several artists’ muses, an exclusive courtesan, wife to a diplomat, mistress to the hero of Trafalgar, and fascinating woman of history. I highly recommend a visit to read and see their profile of the wily and enigmatic Emma Hamilton. There are many fine portraits of her in a variety of nugging dresses, to boot.

In more visual terms of this week’s word, I turn to William Hogarth. This artist was known to get on a moralistic bent now and again, and in his two-fer series entitled Before and After he painted three different versions of the same scene, the before and after effects of a sexual encounter between a man and a woman, each one progressively more dreary and censorious. While the Before paintings show a scene of idyll, the After-s show the women to be utterly fallen.

The first group is the most benign, satirizing French pastoral paintings that showed men making passionate vows of love to ladies in natural settings. The man is all heroic and the lady is pure coquette in the first scene. By the second, however, the more sordid nature of the encounter is apparent. As are the man’s genitals. And yes, these two are the mildest of the three examples.

Before by William Hogarth, 1730-31, lent by the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to the Tate Museum.

After by William Hogarth, 1730-31, lent by the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to the Tate Museum.

The second pair of Before and After art is more direct: attempt at persuasion from the so-called gentleman is gone and coercion is now the strategy. In the first panel, the woman is not flirting by rather trying to flee, knocking over her dressing table in the process. By the second panel, the man is through, and the woman has moved on to what seems to be an appeal, for discretion or protection, possibly.

Before by William Hogarth, between 1730-31, Getty Center.

After by William Hogarth, between 1730-31, Getty Center.

The third set of Before and After paintings is actual a set of six – the series A Harlot’s Progress. The first three represent the before and the last three, the after.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate One: Moll Hackabout arrives in London and meets Mother Needham, a notorious procuress. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Two: Moll is Mistress to a wealthy Jewish man. She creates a diversion to allow a second lover to escape. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Three: Moll, in a reduced state, takes tea while bailiffs enter her lodgings. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Four: Moll beats hemp in Bridewell Prison. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Five: Moll is dying while two doctors aruge over her treatment. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A Harlot’s Progress, Plate Six: Moll’s coffin is surrounded by a group of insincere mourners. Royal Collection Trust courtesy Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.