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all that smothering fringe, and throw open the upper lights of the face. Honthorst's picture of the Queen of Bohemia is a specimen of this. She has the finely pronounced features, deep melancholy eyelids, and prophetic expression of Charles I.-a face, when young, to have bound with a classic fillet like a Cassandra—when old, to have swathed in drapery like one of Michael Angelo's Fates--or, at any age, to have crowned with a royal diadem like a Queen as she had been ;—but which, as here given, with the dark heavy hair, like a curtain halfway down, hanging in a straight line over her eyebrows, and doubtless truer to reality thus than in Vandyke's lighter forms, looks as if all the real expression of the face were quenched—as if, like herself, it had been deprived of its native rights and inheritance.
This coiffure continues into the time of Charles II., only that the little curls hang longer and looser, and seem, like the rest of the costume, to have arrived at their places more by accident than design. As for Lely's pictures, they are neither to be considered as authority for old or for young. His ladies can only be compared to Irish beggars, wandering roofless, without clothes enough to cover them, and what they have all hanging by a single pearl. The contour of the figure, utterly concealed in some parts by a huddled confusion of drapery, in others is not concealed by anything at alla profusion of gown just about their knees, but a great falling off above, as if it had slipped from their shoulders and tumbled into their laps--a costume they have apparently slept
in the night before coming to Sir Peter's studio, or in which they might retire to rest without change immediately on quitting it—all looking young and fair and merry, but none in the least innocent. As to an old woman by Lely, such an anomaly does not exist; we might as well expect a young one by Rembrandt, or a refined one by Rubens. Poor Catherine of Braganza, in his second picture of her, painted with a loose scarf over her chemise, is as old a sitter as any he ever attempted, but she looks more like a bloated child cheated of a box of sugar-plums than a corpulent middle-aged ill-used woman.
We pass over Hogarth. Unquestionable as is his authority for portions and details of a woman's dress, we see it rather as subservient to his particular intention, and that intention one of singling out particular characteristics, than as indicative of the average appearance of society. Hogarth dressed his women doubtless strictly in the fashion of the day, but still always strictly for his own purposes. They are always ogling, leering, scolding, or simpering, and the dress doing the same.
Neither would he have painted costume, nor the Spectator written upon it, had not that which fell under their notice been rather the novelty than the order of the day. Hogarth dealt in extremes. His costumes can be equally all that is modest, as all that is bold; and of course he was right, for a Hogarth will find both in any age or garb. He would have made Lely's loose undress look modest, or Holbein's rigid covering impudent, if it had suited his purpose; but this does not tell us how far the general character of the dress of that time was expressive of either.
We leap at once to him who has done more than any one else to vindicate the art of portrait-painting as indigenous to our country—who started it afresh from its lethargy, and recovered it from its errorsplaced himself at once above all his countrymen who had preceded him, and has remained above all who have followed. Like Holbein and Vandyke, Sir Joshua put his stamp upon the times; or rather, like a true artist and philosopher, he took that aggregate impression which the times gave. Each has doubtless given his sitters a character of his own; but this is not our argument. Each has also made his sitters what the costume of the time contributed to make them. If Vandyke's women are dignified and lofty, it is his doing, for he was dignified and lofty in all his compositions ; if they are also childish and trivial, it is the accident of the costume; for he was never either in his other pictures. If Reynolds's sitters are all simple, earnest, and sober, it is because he was the artist, for he was so in all he touched ; if they are also stately, refined, and intellectual, it was the effect of the costume, for he was not so in his other conceptions. For instance, Lady St. Asaph, with her infant, lolling on a couch, in a loose tumbled dress, with her feet doubled under her, is sober and respectable looking—in spite of dress and position. Mrs. Hope, in an enormous cabbage of a cap, with her hair over her eyes, is blowsy and vulgar in spite of Reynolds.
All is pure,
To our view the average costume of Sir Joshua was excessively beautiful. We go through a gallery of his portraits with feelings of intense satisfaction that there should have been a race of women who could dress so decorously, so intellectually, and withal so becomingly. Not a bit of the costume appeals to any of the baser instincts. There is nothing to catch the vulgar or fix the vicious. noble, serene, benevolent. They seem as if they would care for nothing we could offer them, if our deepest reverence were not with it. We stand before them like Satan before Eve, “ stupidly good," ready
, to abjure all the fallacies of the Fathers, all the maxims of the moderns-ready to eat our own words if they disapproved them-careless what may have been the name or fame, family or fortune, of such lofty and lovely creatures--yea, careless of their very beauty, for the soul that shines through it. And then to think that they are all dead !
The mere inventory is soon given. An enormous pile of powdered hair, rising with an easy curve direct from the forehead, and ascending story upon story, with jewels or feathers intermixed, or a scarf carelessly wound round it. The dress fitting close to the figure-made high on the shoulders and low in front. The sleeves tight, and finishing at the elbow with deep double or treble ruffles. The waist long and small, with a rich girdle slung round it. The skirt descending in heavy folds, much the same in the Vandyke portraits, or tucked
or tucked up round the waist in coquettish puffs, showing a rich petticoat
underneath. Sometimes a graceful upper robe with collar and facings of ermine, entirely open in front, and held on apparently only by the loose sleeves through which the arms are passed. Plenty of rich laces, edge over edge up to the throat for the old, or a frill round the throat for the elderly—no tags or trumpery, or reliance small manæuvres, but all in good large masses and continuous lines.
But the refined and intellectual side of this costume is not so easily described. This first resides especially in the shoulders and bust, which, owing perhaps to the superincumbent weight of the head, bend slightly forward with ineffable grace, showing us as plain as possible the flat well-shaped back we do not see. Beautifully does the dress sit round this portion of the figure, clinging closely rather than fitting tightly; with none of that stuffed appearance
; too common in our modern belles—(who seem as if they took the shape of their dresses, and not vice versâ- -as if they were cast into them like metal into a mould)—but breaking into a thousand easy puckers and folds, as if the dress followed the sweet windings of the form in its own free way, rather than was strained tight to display it. The waist too -we have said it was long and small—but we should not know where it was at all, except for those easy lines which wrap round it, and for that rich girdle which has slipped down naturally to the smallest part. Then the high make of the dress on the
. shoulders has a peculiar refinement, giving that vestal-like narrowness to this part of the person