|Portrait of a Lady by Thomas Hudson, c. 1740s - Hudson appeared to have done many many portraits of women in Cavalie-inspired dress.|
It's no bad thing. I do love research! I love the questions that come up and hunting down the answers, or at least some speculative conclusions with terms like "appears to," "may have," and "looks like" attached.
Rooting around in the 1740s rabbit hole this weekend, I flipped through (and pinned) every painting depicting women's dress I could find on The Atheneum, according to year and also noting the region. I found most of my "rules" broken, but I also noticed some fascinating regional trends.
One of these trends brought to mind a controversial costume from Outlander Season 2. This one:
|From Frock Flicks - click through for more on this episode's costumes.|
|From Frock Flicks - click through|
It turns out that Cavalier-style throwbacks were a thing in the 1740s, particularly in Scotland as well as England. Here's a whole bunch of portraits showing this:
Gertrude, Daughter of John Leveson Gower, 1st Lord Gower (Stephen Slaughter - ) English, c 1742
|Lady Grace Carteret, Countess of Dysart with a Child, and a Black Servant, Cockatoo and Spaniel (John Giles Eccardt - ) c. 1740 - Dysart is in Scotland|
|Portrait of a Lady By Thomas Hudson - on of many with this style. Hudson was English, and many of his portraits do not tell us who the sitter is.|
|Portrait of Susan, Mrs. Henry Hoare of Stourhead (1707-1743) – by William Hoare of Bath (c.1707/1708-1792) – c.1742-1743.|
|"Portrait of an Unidentified Young Lady", attr. Thomas Hudson, ca. 1745; NT 726085|
|ca. 1740 Lady, possibly of the Cholmeley family by Allan Ramsay|
|Allan Ramsay (1713-1784) Scottish Portrait Painter, portrait of Mrs Campbell|
|Anne Erskine (b.1740), Daughter of John Erskine, 14th of Dun and Wife of John Wauchope of Edmonstone, Allan Ramsay, 1747. Collection: National Trust for Scotland|
I'm intrigued as well about the prevalence of this style of dress in portraits by Allan Ramsay and Thomas Hudson, both prolific portraitist. This leads to the question of "why." WHY so much historicism in this particular period? Often these trends are tied to political events - so what was going on in the 1740s, in the British Isles, particularly Scotland, that inspired this Baroque revival? Or maybe it was just Ramsay's and Hudsons thing, like genre paintings in the 19th c? Or all these dresses really are just masquerade costumes?