Archive for May, 2015

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Queens College Fashion Collection: 1830s White Satin Evening Dress

For the Spring 2015 semester, I took a course with the Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences Department called Fashion Archiving.  Queens College, CUNY, has an immense historic fashion collection, and in this new course, students learn how to research and handle old materials.  After being assigned an 1830s White Satin Evening Dress, I was required to pinpoint the exact period of the dress, place it in its historical and cultural moment, and finally give a small presentation to a live audience.  I did research both at home and at the FIT Special Collections Library, looking through 19th century publications and fashion plates.  Enjoy!

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Saturday, May 30th, 2015

The Lady of Shalott: The Women Behind the Art


Lady of ShalottLady of Shalott by Elizabeth Siddal (1853)
Lady of Shalott by William Holman Hunt (1886-1905)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1832 poem below

“Four gray walls, and four gray towers / Overlook a space of flowers, / And the silent isle imbowers / The Lady of Shalott.” Throughout the decades of the 19th century, artist after artist focused on this somber edifice, depicting the world of the Lady of Shalott within its bounds. The publishing of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “Lady of Shalott” in 1832 sparked this widespread appeal in 19th century England. Focusing on different scenes, and emphasizing specific symbols, artists such as Gabriel Dante Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal, and William Holman Hunt strove to interpret the role of woman through the figure of the Lady. These assorted understandings of women’s roles illuminates women’s place at the time in which the piece of art was created, as well as how the individual artist personally related to the subject. Tennyson, writing in the 1830s, was grappling with the foundation of the Cult of Domesticity; Elizabeth Siddal, drawing in the 1850s, dealt personally with the issues of women and society; and William Holman Hunt, finishing his final painting on the subject in 1905, depicts the anxiety felt at the turn of the century towards the new, modern woman. The legend of the Lady of Shalott and its myriad interpretations throughout the 19th century serve as a lens in which the reader and viewer can witness the progression of women’s roles in society.

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Women, Fashion, and the Middle Ages: 1300-1500

Women, Fashion, and the Middle AgesImages from the Luttrell Psalter (14th Century) and the Queen Mary Psalter (14th Century)

Long, draping, formless garments give way to tighter, more form fitting women’s dress. The changing of silhouette in women’s fashion is immediately apparent when looking at a timeline of the middle ages. For centuries the style remained relatively similar, but as soon as the 14th century hits, drastic changes can be witnessed.

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Paul Gauguin and Maurice Denis: Ia Orana Maria vs. Springtime

Paul Gauguin and Maurice Denis: Ia Orana Maria vs. SpringtimeGauguin’s Ia Orana Maria (1891) —– Denis’ Springtime (1894-99)

“Art is an abstraction; derive this abstraction from nature while dreaming before it, but think more of creating than of the actual result.” – Paul Gauguin1

“[Great art is] universal triumph of the imagination of the aesthetes over crude imitation; triumph of the emotion of the Beautiful over the naturalist deceit.” –Maurice Denis2

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