I love fashion. In case, you didn’t know, I studied fashion design. I can make a dress out of a scrap of fabric. So, it’s natural that I blend the things I am passionate about fashion, history and writing.
This is a new feature of my blog that focuses on historical costume or historical fashion (depending on what term you wish to use).
For this blog, I chose to focus on my favorite portrait. The portrait of Josephine Eleonore Marie Pauline De Galard De Brassac De Bearn, Princess de Broglie painted by Ingres in 1853. This work of art is located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art–the MET– in New York City. If you get to see it in person, you will be hypnotized and enchanted by both the skill of the artist, Ingres and by the sitter herself, Princess de Broglie.
Before I get into the costume, let me tell you the Princess’ story. Josephine was known for her beauty. Look at the portrait, you can also see that she appears shy. The princess was known to be profoundly shy. Though, her exterior form is striking (possessed the fashionable figure of that time with her sloping shoulders), there was more to this woman. She was deeply religious and highly intelligent. During her life, she published three volumes of essays on religious history.
Josephine was married to Albert de Broglie on 18 June 1845. She was the mother of five sons. Born in 1825, she would not live to an old age. She contracted tuberculosis and was died in 1860 at 35 years old. Her husband lived into 1901 and heartbroken, he never remarried.
Her portrait was completed when she was 28 years old. Her beauty and personality were captured in oil in the most beautiful garment I have ever seen. So, let’s get to what she’s wearing.
Princess De Broglie is wearing a blue satin evening gown embellished with a lace bertha and dangling blue satin ribbons. Lace trims the ruched ribboned neckline and sleeves and down the center front of the bodice is a row of matching blue satin ribbons.
The princess is dressed for an evening probably to attend a ball. The dress follows the fashion of the early 1850s France. This French time period is called the Second Empire. Fashion was having a Rococo Revival. The details of this style was a short-waisted bodice and dome-shaped skirt as well as the bow detail and the lace on the neckline and sleeves that mimic 18th century fashion.
What is she wearing beneath the gown? In order of dressing, she has donned a chemise, cotton or linen, tucked into pantalettes and a corset over that. The support garments would be additional petticoats.
Now for the finishing details, her hairstyle. Her thick, black hair is parted down the middle and pushed back and pinned and finished with pearl-laced maribou feathers attached to matching blue ribbons pinned on both sides of her head.
Her accessories include a white or ivory cashmere shawl finished with a border of gold embroidery. She has a matching gold and white or ivory face and white silk gloves. I believe just on the edge of the chair is a velvet black cloak she would have donned before heading out. These items are located on the chair.
The accessories she has on her person are gold and pearl strand earrings. She has a simple gold necklace with a gold pendant. On her wrists are two braclets. On the left arms is a pearl braclet that loops around her wrist five times and is clasped with a metal detail–most likely gold. And on her right wrist is a gold and ruby bracket.
Are you as hypnotized by this portrait as I am? What do you love about it?