Showing posts with label 19th century paintings of women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 19th century paintings of women. Show all posts

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beautiful Modesty

Painting by Sir John Lavery 
(I like the way this dress is showing blowing in the wind, which is a perfect compliment to the ocean's waves.)

The subject of modesty seems to be an especially sensitive one, these days. 

Proponents of immodesty force their bareness on everyone around them, even when it offends others or makes them uncomfortable.  There is an element of rudeness and selfishness involved in the parading of bareness around us.

In Bible classes dealing with the subject of modesty, some women secretly sneer or hotly debate the issue, rather than opening their hearts to the teaching of the Holy Spirit from the word of God.(1st Timothy 2:9)  Others may be genuinely unaware of their immodesty, perhaps from being so used to the culture of immodesty.
A Rest By the Pool
by Frederick Hiddeman
(This painting of a girl with a fishing pole is a favorite of mine)

 If you would love modesty, look at  the old paintings of the previous centuries,  which record a time when clothing worn in public covered more of the body. Modesty and beauty are closely connected. In response to a modesty lesson, some girls might react in an exaggerated way by heaping loads of sloppy clothing on them to illustrate their understanding of modesty. But modesty does not mean that you have to look like your clothes were thrown on with a pitch fork.

 An older woman reported that she once taught a lesson in modesty to some young women, who then wore fancy prom dresses to church, in exaggerated mockery of her lessons. The meaning of "adorn themselves in modest apparel" (Ist Timothy 2:9) is to cover up in well-arranged adorning of appropriate long clothing.  If a person really wants to please the Lord, their clothing should reflect the beauty of His creation, and His glory, and look like an appropriate adornment. This means that it should not be exaggeratedly dull or showy, but dignified and respectful.

For mothers, older women, and teachers,  here are a few points you might consider, when approaching the delicate and volatile subject of modest clothing.  I have left  comments beneath some of the pictures about the clothing.

The Shepherdess 
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight
(Though this garment is rather dark and dull,  some of the clothing sold to us  today is no better. At least this skirt and cape is feminine and modest.)

Go into the Past for Illustration.  I've chosen these 19th century paintings to illustrate modest, beautiful clothing, because they depict women outdoors in God's glorious creation, with all its texture, color and weather. Sportswear does not have to mean "bare wear."  It is just as easy to be outdoors in modest clothing as in immodest clothing.

 You can see from old photographs and paintings that women did not think their dresses hindered their enjoyment of the great outdoors. An added advantage to modest clothing is that it gives a woman a feminine look  and the appearance of graceful movements.  It also protects the woman from the embarrassment of immodesty. 

Did you know that it was only a few years ago that a woman would have been embarrassed if her slip was showing, and blushingly ashamed if any part of her underwear, including straps, was apparent?  Did you know that women used to respect other people enough to dress modestly? 

Girl With Goats at a Fjord

The Dahl's have got to be my favorite northern artists, and it is always difficult to tell which painting is by the grandfather, the father or the son. I love the happy, healthy glowing faces of the girls they painted near the fjords, and the bright skirts and vests, with the feminine white blouses And notice how there does not seem to be a discordant note between the subject and the surrounding nature: it is all beautiful.)

Inspire Modest Dressing by showing them beautiful fabrics and patterns, or using catalogs that sell appropriate and lovely clothing. Go through any publications you can find and circle the ones that are modest and beautiful at the same time.  While claiming to be liberal about clothing, with phrases like, "No one should judge people by their clothing," many people make fun of long dresses or historically-based clothing, which shows their bias in favor of modern bare-wear.

Cutting Roses
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight
(The jacket and blouse look like something worn today, and the skirt could easily be made, even without a pattern. I like the way many of these paintings show the women's clothing to match their surroundings, such as a rose-print blouse and the nearby rose bush.)

Wear attractive garments yourself as an influence. The easiest way to teach beautiful modesty is to wear it. Wear cheerful clothing at home and in any public situation.  It gives others courage  to wear long skirts when they see someone else doing it. You might be surprised at how your persistence  can cause a change in the modesty at church or in your own town.

In a Garden
by Henry John Yeend King

Try Wearing Beautiful, Modest Clothing  just one day each week, to church, to show honor and respect. Buy or make something special, that is not formal, yet a little more dressy, just for church. Older women, even if they are not teachers, can teach by example by the way they dress. 

A Game of Tennis
by Leopold Kowalski

(Interesting how ladies could still play a rigorous game of tennis in the longish tennis costume of the day.)

Show how you can find alternatives to the world's wacky fashions. If  you are really looking for beautiful, modest clothes, you can find them, but it will take more effort. There is a prevailing belief that we should not be concerned about clothing or what it looks like on us, because it is vanity or it is materialistic, but that is a faulty way of thinking, for it shows that you do not care to be polite to others and do not care what kind of view you give them.  When you begin to care what others have to see, you can set about to find clothing that is more modest. 

The Old Mill
by Henry John Yeend King

Emphasize how beautiful modesty builds a good reputation for yourself, your family, the church and the nation.  It is popular for foreigners to hate the Western  countries because the common belief is that they are "immodest, decadent, immoral and greedy," but you can do your part to nullify that claim by embracing modest beauty in your choice of clothing.

Boreas by John William Waterhouse
(In the wind, this shawl takes on a graceful look, and the print on the blue dress looks quite modern. This outfit could easily be imitated in contemporary clothing.)

19th Century Ladies Golf

In the Meado
by Henri Pierre Hippolyte Duboise

(Through the prejudiced eyes of moderns, the Victorians were a stiff society, consumed with propriety and silly customs, but the ladies in the painting look casual and don't seem to be too horrified about sitting on the ground.  Their clothing was appropriate for all occasions, both indoor and out. They had their troubles with immodesty too, in those days, but the clothes in general seem to be suitable for all kinds of activities.)

The Letter
by Henry John Yeend King

(The aprons of these Victorian paints interest me. I see some of them are rolled up and buttoned, and others are rolled at an angle. Aprons were used for many different things.)

Teach that the eye of the beholder should be drawn to the face, but if the body is not well-covered, it will draw attention away from the most important part, with is the real you--your personality and the expressions you use to minister to others. Your eyes and your smile  and your voice should not have to compete with immodest clothing. 

There are other meanings of the word modesty, and one of them is the lack of boastfulness. Wearing immodest clothing is like showing off, which is the opposite of modest behavior. A person who does not want to boast, does not reveal everything about herself.  A woman should cover body in a beautiful and modest way, not because she ashamed of her body, but because she needs to hide her privacy from others.  

Finally, teach that  modesty is commanded in scripture: "...that women adorn themselves in modest apparel..." 1st Timothy 2:9-10  In the Koine Greek, which was the original language of the New Testament, the word adorn means to arrange or put in order. One definition is to drape or decorate. The word modest means orderly, decent, harmonious arrangement.  Apparel  means a long garment.

One can conclude from these word definitions, that God does not just expect modesty, but beautifully arranged clothing in good design and orderly, which is beautiful modesty. A good teacher should illustrate by her own clothing that she is in love with life and is enthusiastic about  beautiful clothing. Her example and happy attitude will reach the eyes of the most reluctant learners, and those who will not hear, will remember the vision of loveliness of someone they saw, adorned in modest apparel.

The Thinking Housewife  also has a post about modesty today.
Andrea has a post on modesty also.

I'm so happy for new visitors, and I ask that you also click on the comment section to see the good things that other viewers say, which add to the strength of this post.

To print this post for your notebook or for distribution, go here.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Painting Inspired Sewing

Mother and Son
by Fritz Zuber-Buhler
Switzerland, 1822-1896

Tickling the Baby
by Franz Zuber-Buhler

by Frans Zuber-Buhler

For painting-inspired sewing, I've chosen the country styles of the Swiss painter, Frans Zuber-Buhler. In the previous post there are many paintings by Daniel Ridgeway Knight which have a similar style of country clothing. 

 To sew something similar in a modern dress, skirt, blouse or vest, I would suggest you look in the  costume section of a pattern pattern book and  adapt a pattern  to every-day wear by altering the length or the sleeves to modernize it. 

 Or, sew one of these Neue Mode patterns, which can be worn as casual clothing. These are not costumes, but this pattern company does have a costume section. This selection has the look of the 19th century country clothing, with the wearableness of current day needs.

This Neue Mode pattern is available in the U.S and Europe and looks similar to the country  clothing worn in the paintings. To make it look like a skirt and vest, just sew a different color skirt onto the bodice piece. Similar boots can be bought at discount stores everywhere.

Every year, pattern companies and department stores  have a version of the all-time classic peasant blouse and skirt. This Neue Mode pattern combines the two into a dress.

Most patterns need adjusting at the shoulder and neckline. You can see instructions here on a previous post.

Another interesting Neue Mode pattern.

These patterns have no seam allowance added on the pattern, so if you are used to sewing patterns which include seam allowance, you'll have to remember to cut a seam allowance one-half inch to five-eighths inch around the paper pattern.

This might be of interest to several ladies who asked about sewing similar clothes to the country fashions shown in paintings on this blog.

You might also look for "Lanz" designs and patterns, a Swiss based company.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A French Visitor, Alexis De Tocqueville on American Men and Women, 1831

Beneath the Apple Tree
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight
Pennsylvania, 1839-1924

"You do not see American women directing concerns outside the range of the family, or handling business dealings, or entering politics." … "Nor have Americans ever imagined that the result of democratic principle would be to overturn a husband’s authority or to introduce any ambiguity about who is in charge in the family." … "if I am asked how we should account for the unusual prosperity and growing strength of this nation, I would reply that they must be attributed to the superiority of their women."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Lily Pond

The Lily Pond
by W. Ashburner, 1882-1932

Painting Description: Wearing a long blue gown, and holding up one side of the hem, a woman stands the lowest step in front of a lily pond. Her dress is adorned with a white shawl-collar, edged  in a wide ruffle on the shoulders. The collar is tied in the front at the waist. The curved stone stair step leads behind her through a gate opening, and the entire background of the painting consists of foliage with dark pink flowers. The water shows a slight blue reflection of the gown, as the woman casts her glance downward to see the lilies.

Here are a couple of ways to create home made cards and letter-writing materials:

To make these you will need some pages from a daily removeable page picture calendar, some heavy paper or card weight paper, scissors and glue.  Match up the pictures to the card and glue in place.

Since the inside is blank, write on it as though you were writing a letter, and use the back, too. Or, just stamp your greeting, if you have one, that fits the occasion.

Using decorated stationery might develop your interest in writing letters.
Decorate blank paper to make special writing paper by rubber stamping various areas around the paper, and then placing a ruler on the straight edge of the paper. Draw lines with co-ordinating crayon or special pens just to join the images, like this:

It nicely frames your letter with a lovely border.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Women at Home in Paintings of the 1800's

Arranging Roses
by De Scott Evans

At the Kitchen Window
by De Scott Evans (1847-1898) American

The  Tack Room
by De Scott Evans

Picking Wildflowers
by De Scott Evans

Grandma's Visitors
by De Scott Evans

Looking at Drawings

Adolpho Belimbau 1894 (Italy) 1845-1938

Portrait by James Tissot, 1836-1902, France

In contrast to these 19th century scenes of women at home, this is an interesting description of life for women after the French Revolution (1788-1804) in which all restraint and propriety was set aside:

(With their culture destroyed, they lived a free-for-all existence:)

Never did the French nation offer its observers a stranger, more incoherent, various, and extraordinary sight than in the early period of the Directory. Everything—habits, traditions, language, throne, altar, manners and customs—had been swallowed up in the Revolution... As no tradition of that past remained, nor any possibility of extemporising a whole society, with new rules, new customs, and new dress, in the space of a single day, these were all borrowed, in a lump, from ancient history and extinct nation. Each individual was bedizened and made up according to his or her own sweet will, each talked his or her chosen jargon. It was a universal travesty, an unlimited carnival, a neverending senseless orgie. Nobody can look back, from these latter days, on the general character and petty details of the libertinage of those, without being tempted to believe the whole thing a colossal joke, a tremendous caricature, invented by some humorist of the school of Rowlandson or Hogarth...

(Immodesty was rampant)

The ladies insisted that their dresses should show every contour, and be of transparent fabrics. In vain the doctors spent their breath in assertions that the French climate, temperate as it was, did not admit of clothing as light as that of ancient Greece. The counsels of the disciples of Hippocrates fell on deaf ears, and, at the close of the year VI, Delessart found himself in a position to assert that he had seen more young girls die during the reign of nakedness veiled in gauze, than during the forty years preceding it.

(Young women did not stay home, and domestic occupation was replaced by partying)

The Revolution had forced them to live in the street; the home joys, the witty drawing-rooms of former days, the love of things noble and high-souled, it had no power, nor any desire, to bestow. They had no beliefs, no faith, no clear conception of good and evil; and so, unchecked, they slipped ipto the life of sensual pleasures, with no special perception of enjoyment, beyond the merest animal gratification.

That fierce Republican, Sebastien Mercier, who was to live until 1814, and who was in a position to bear witness to the disgraceful dissipation of the new regime, has added, as a postscript to his " Nouveau Tableau deParis," the following curious pages on the more than affable nymphs of the year VIII:

"Their three rules—and these are faithfully obeyed—are to read novels, dance, and live in idleness. Twenty years ago, no young girl would have ventured outside her parents' house without her mother: she walked under her mother's wing, and kept her eyes studiously cast down. The only man she dared to look at was him she was allowed to hope for, or choose, as her future husband. The Revolution has swept away all this submission. Young girls go about, both day and night, in perfect freedom. Their sole occupations are to walk and drive, to amuse themselves, to make merry, have their fortunes told, and quarrel over their admirers. Scissors and thimbles are all cast aside.

This piece, from the same online book expressed astonishment at the rapid change of fashion:

Fashion had a settled place of origin, a centre and fixed periods of existence. Now it springs up, I know not where; it is supported, I know not by whom ; and ends, I know not how! . . .

My notes: I believe that young women, especially the home school girls, should be familiar with these descriptions because it shows how important it is to cling to that which is good, no matter what the trends.  It helps us to understand what is behind the crazy fashions perpetrated upon the world by some designers.  No one has to follow the trends, and there have always been beautiful alternatives.

Read more here.


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