To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to Closely Recreate an 1830s Portrait of a Countess

I have had a love affair with the Romantic Era (roughly 1825-1835) since I watched Cranford and  Wives and Daughters.  It was shortly after I started costuming, around 2004, and at the time I was known as "The '90s Girl" among my costuming and SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) peers.  I adored the huge Leg-o-Mutton sleeves, wide skirts, top knot hair style and fabulously large hats that were found from 1895-1896.  So, it would only stand to reason that I would also adore the dresses from an era that was around 60 years older.  The similarity between the two silhouettes is just plain crazy.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any reason or need to create such a wonderful ensemble.  The years that SASS encompassed was from the 1860s to the 1890s and wanting to be era correct for this sport, decided to not make a dress from waaaaaay earlier.

Enter Costume College 2014.  I finally have a place to wear a fabulous dress from 1833.  The image I settled on to loosely copy was a painting of the Countess Emilia Sommariva Seillere painted by Boisfremont Charles de Boulanger.  About a year ago, I found the image on Pinterest and fell head over heals in love with it.  

Lauren from American Duchess helped me out with the legal aspect of copying images off of the internet to my blog and found some wonderful images of the portrait.  One of the images was from Getty Images.  I wrote Getty and asked permission to post the image to my blog and they wrote back telling me that there was a new "Embed" feature on the site.  I was so excited!  I could show you an image of the portrait and be legal at the same time.  I followed the instructions to the letter, only to find out that this particular image was not on the new "Embed" list....grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-ness!!!  So.....until I can find an image that I can copy and use here, I will have to just offer links for you to use.  Thank you so much Lauren!

Here is the fabulous portrait of the Countess!

Countess Emilia Sommariva Seillere

and another one.  The details of the painting are so clear in this one..

Yooniq Images

I love everything about this portrait.  From the Countess's sweet face to the fur tippet draped across her shoulders.  She is even reading a book!  Or at least holding it in an open position.  I had some dupioni silk in my stash the exact same color as her gown.  I read on a blog that had this image posted that the dress may have been made of velvet, but I had the silk and would use it.  

Since I adore accesories of all kinds when loosely recreating a dress, I set about finding accessories that might work for this project.  Ebay and one of  my local antiques stores came to my rescue.  
For the brooch that is seen at the top of the Countess's bodice, I found this one on Ebay:


The antique store had this buckle waiting for me:


Here is a wonderful closeup from Getty Images:


For the bracelet, I didn't even bother looking for one that would be similar.  I figured my time would be better spent Frankensteining my own.  Back to Ebay I went.  I typed in a search for "large black stone brooch"  and this is what I found:


Close-up of braclelt from Getty:


Now, in the "better" images of the portrait, it shows the stone in the bracelet to be a dark red.  Since I had already purchased the black stoned brooch, I have decided to go ahead and use it. I like the use of black accessories anyway, so it will be fine.  I have purchased black glass beads for the 3 string necklace and earrings and will be making a black fur tippet out of a vintage fur coat.  The bracelet, necklace and tippet will be constructed in the near future...

Now on to the dress itself.  As I said, I already had the silk for it, so only needed to find the correct pattern to make it from.  Enter Truly Victorian.  Heather had the perfect pattern available:  TV 455 Romantic Era Dress.  I have to say that this pattern was perfect.  I didn't have to mutate anything to get the shape I wanted!!!  Huzzah and away!  Will wonders never cease?  I did pleat the skirt into the waist band instead of gathering it as that is how the Countess's skirt was attached.  I apologize for not taking any construction pictures.  I was in the middle of a get-this-dress-done-before-school-gets-out binge and was furiously sewing.  But as I said, the pattern was straight forward and didn't require any adjusting!

Picutres!  Keep in mind that the dress fits quite ill on Emma as she is thin and has no legs so the dress falls a bit flat....

Poor Emma needs to gain some weight!  hahahahaha!

The sleeves are going to need some sort of support...still looking into that.  I don't want the cute round sleeve supporters as the sleeves in the portrait are more saucer shaped than round.

For the back closure, I wanted it to lace up.  I am having difficulty finding ribbon that matches the silk.  Thankfully, I have a while yet to search!

My first time ever making and using piping!  It was quite simple and I think I did rather well!
My hand sewn grommets.  The only sewing that I have done that is era correct...honestly, I don not have time to make a dress all hand stitched....



Up next for this ensemble:  Make the bracelet, necklace and earrings.  Take a part a vintage black fur coat to make the tippet.  Find some poppy pods to spray paint gold for my hair!

Here are some more images that American Duchess found for me.


You can see a lot of wonderful detail in this image.  For instance the Countess's poppy pods are two toned, and the belt of the dress is a figured pattern on it!


I think that this portrait should come home to my house!!  It is so gorgeous!

Well, I am taking today off to rest and make cookies!  I hope your day finds you happy, blessed and refreshed!

Blessings!

g



16 comments:

  1. Oh, it looks amazing! Can't wait to see it all together (and your piping looks fantastic).

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so very much Maqda! I was very intimidated by the piping, but not anymore!
      Blessings!
      g

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  2. That's beautiful, Gina! Our 1830s at Costume College is going to be EPIC this year!
    Val

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Val! Indeed the 1830s at Coco will be epic!
      Blessings!
      g

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  3. Looks fantastic! I love 1830s dresses so much!

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    1. Thank you so very much Marylou! I too love the 1830s! They are too fun!
      Blessings!
      g

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  4. Oh my! I want to see it on model <3 and brooches and buckle? fantastic, especially first brooch is lovely

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Magrat! I am happy you like the brooches! They are very fun!
      Blessings!
      g

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  5. Replies
    1. Oh thank you so much Tracey!
      Blessings!
      g

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  6. Beautiful color! I look forward to seeing the dress on you with all the accessories!

    Best,
    Quinn

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Quinn! I love the color if this dress...I was saving it for something special!
      Blessings!
      g

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  7. Swoon! The details! You did an amazing job with the sleeves, they look exactly the same as in the picture! Gaah, I'm so jelly you're going to CoCo though. I really do hope in few years we'll get to meet there!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Eleonora! I do hope we can meet at Coco! That would be so great!
      Blessings!
      g

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  8. So perfect to the Countess' gown! Beautiful!

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    1. Thank you thank you Jeanette! I do hope I do her justice!
      Blessings!
      g

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