Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Peculiar Sort of German Gown

Even though my Sophie project hasn't gotten off the ground yet, I'm still researching the gown's style while I get up the nerve to start making it. One of the things I've noticed is that the style of her gown, while unusual from other 18thC gowns, and other robes à l'allemande, it is not entirely unique. First, let's look at the Sophie gown again.

Immediately one is struck by how different this gown is from others of the period (1760s). There are these cockade/rosette things all over the stomacher and on the robings. There's a massive amount of silver trim, and little bit of lacing peeking out from the top of the neckline, and the neckline itself is extremely wide, like other allemande gowns. The stomacher, underneath the cockades and banding, appears to be some sort of corded or reed-boned affair, made in a metallic silver fabric. She wears a lace shawl or capelet with the gown. But she's not alone.

Agnes von Anhalt-Dessau by Christian Friedrich Reinhold Lisiewski, 1763

The gown above is remarkably similar to the Sophie gown! The little cockades, the style of the stomacher, the little bit of peeking lace. There are fewer cockades on Anges' dress than Sophie's, and she has more traditional trimming on her robings, and her neckline isn't quite as wide as Sophie's, but the similarities are striking. She even has the reed boned stomacher underneath the bandings.

So, I've started wondering if this sort of dress was a thing. It seems to be cropping up in more and more pictures from Germany, specifically the 1740s - 1760s.

 Ernestine Henriette von Sydow by Georg Lisiewski, 1745(?)

This gown has the wide neckline with the peeking lace, and the little lace capelet/shawl. She doesn't have the cockades, but she has the banding across the front, which appear to tie closed with the bows. Perhaps the cockades on the other two gowns were concealing the closures for those gowns. Ernestine appears to have a lace stomacher under her banding, rather than the boned one that Sophie and Agnes have.

Anna Maria von Lippert mit Wappen und Jahreszahl, miniature painting, unknown artist; date unknown, but clearly 18th century, despite the "1670" notation under the lady's name, which is most likely the year of her birth. Perhaps a posthumous portrait of an ancestor? The accompanying portrait of Franz Joseph Lippert was painted at the same time, and is marked "1747", which is known to be the year of his birth, and given his apparent age in his portrait, they were probably painted sometime in the late 1760s - 1770s.

Finally, we have this interesting miniature portrait of a lady named Anna Maria. Her dress is more like Anges', with the more common neckline and traditional robings, but she still has the banding across the stomacher. Like Ernestine, she has little bows at the center front, but hers appear to be decorative rather than functional, perhaps concealing the real fastening underneath them the way the cockades on Sophie and Agnes' dresses do.

This sort of gown seems, so far, exclusive to Germany. While Robes à l'allemande appear outside of Germany, even though only a little bit, this gown is seen only in German portraits. So what is it? I haven't been able to find any sort of references to the style, there doesn't seem to be a particular name for it anywhere. Have you come across this style or seen a name for it? Let me know!

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