Portrait of a Lady Seated on a Balcony in a Blue Dress
23 1/2 x 19 1/4 in. (59.7 x 48.9 cm)
b. 19th Century
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Purchased with funds provided by the Art Angels
In the 1850s, a woman’s ideal silhouette consisted of a small waist, drooping shoulders, and a voluminous skirt. The skirt would get bigger as time went on, and by the mid-decade, it was supported by up to seven petticoats underneath. As a result, silk became a popular material for dresses as it was light enough to hold over many petticoats without losing its shape. The wealthy lady in the painting, evidenced by her footstool and lace, likely had her cashmere shawl imported from India, as the country was known for the high quality and expensive feminine accessory. Alternatively, she could have gotten a cheaper imitation shawl ordered from France, England, and Scotland as well. Another mark of the woman’s wealth are the ‘engageantes’— removable white undersleeves that puff and close at the wrist— here trimmed with ornamental green ribbons.
Class of 2022