Rudyard Kipling’s “Stiff Upper Lip”: From Empire to Tragedy

Rudyard Kipling, born in India in 1865, embodied the spirit of British Imperialism during its peak. His life was a journey of incredible success and unimaginable sorrow, forever marked by the “stiff upper lip” of Victorian stoicism.

Early Years

Growing up in Bombay, Kipling was surrounded by the grandeur and diversity of the British Raj.

 Girgaum Road, Bombay, India c.1895
Girgaum Road, Bombay, India c.1895
Pydownee Street, Bombay, India c1895
Pydownee Street, Bombay, India c1895
Harbour with arriving mail, Bombay, India, c. 1895
Harbour with arriving mail, Bombay, India, c. 1895
Statue of Queen Victoria (Empress of India, 1 May 1876 – 22 January 1901) in front of Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata (calcutta). Credit Karthiknanda
Statue of Queen Victoria (Empress of India, 1 May 1876 – 22 January 1901) in front of Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata (calcutta). Credit Karthiknanda

Yet, his idyllic childhood was shattered at the age of five when he and his sister were sent to a cruel boarding house in England. For six years they suffered cruelty and neglect at the hands of the evil Mrs Holloway of Lorne Lodge.

Badly-treated children have a clear notion of what they are likely to get if they betray the secrets of a prison-house before they are clear of it.Rudyard Kipling.

Relief came for one month every year when he and his sister visited their maternal Aunt in London. It was a paradise compared to Lorne Lodge.

A paradise which I verily believe saved me.Rudyard Kipling.

When at last his mother returned from India to remove the children from Lorne Lodge, he was able to tell the story.

The experience instilled in him the importance of emotional control, a trait that would remain with him throughout his life.

Around the World

After a brief stint at school, Kipling returned to India to pursue his passion for writing. By the age of 24, he had already published several successful stories and embarked on a breathtaking journey around the world.

Steamboats revolutionized international travel in the late Victorian era

Kipling left India in March 1889, traveling to San Francisco via Rangoon (a region of Myanmar), Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.

After falling in love with a Geisha in Tokyo, he continued his journey through the United States, arriving first in San Francisco and traveling on to Portland OR, Seattle, Vancouver, Alberta, Yellowstone National Park, Salt Lake City, Omaha, Chicago, Beaver PA, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Washington D. C., New York, and Boston.

He stopped along the way to visit Mark Twain, arriving unannounced, but being fortunate enough to find Mr Twain at home and happy to put the world to rights over a few whiskeys.

‘Drop by any time’. Mark Twain pondering the world.

Travelling inspired Kipling’s boundless imagination and laid the foundation for his future literary achievements.

Bliss and Tragedy

In Vermont, Kipling found his haven, building a home he called “Bliss Cottage.” Here, surrounded by his wife and daughters, he penned his most beloved works, including the Jungle Books. However, tragedy struck when his young daughter, Josephine, passed away from pneumonia.

This devastating loss left a permanent scar on Kipling’s soul, forcing him to confront the limitations of the “stiff upper lip.”

Poet of the Empire

As Kipling’s fame grew, so did his association with British Imperialism. He became known as the “Poet of the Empire,” writing poems like “The White Man’s Burden” that reflected the ideals and anxieties of the time. His unwavering support for the British cause during the Boer War further cemented this image.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.Rudyard Kipling.

Dreams and Nightmares

In 1902, Kipling purchased a 17th-century mansion called Bateman’s, a place he cherished for its peace and beauty. Here, he continued to write prolifically, achieving the pinnacle of his career.

Bateman's. Credit Tony Grist
Bateman’s. Credit Tony Grist

However, tragedy struck once again with the loss of his son, John, in the First World War. This profound loss left Kipling heartbroken and disillusioned.

John Kipling, 1915

The Scars of War

During the war, Kipling used his powerful pen to write propaganda for the British government.

He held a particularly strong contempt for any man who reneged on his duty to serve his country, calling them outcasts and a disgrace to their family’s name.

What of his family, and, above all, what of his descendants, when the books have been closed and the last balance struck of sacrifice and sorrow in every hamlet, village, parish, suburb, city, shire, district, province, and Dominion throughout the Empire?Rudyard Kipling.
Troops going “over the top”, i.e. emerging from their trenches and charging into “no man’s land” towards enemy lines, often leading to massive casualties.

He viewed the war as a battle between good and evil, civilization and barbarity.

There was no crime, no cruelty, no abomination that the mind of men can conceive of which the German has not perpetrated, is not perpetrating, and will not perpetrate if he is allowed to go on…Today, there are only two divisions in the world…human beings and Germans.Rudyard Kipling.

However, the loss of his son exposed the hollowness of jingoism and forced him to confront the true cost of war.

If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied.Rudyard Kipling.
“My Boy Jack” by Rudyard Kipling… (Click to View)

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

The Stiff Upper Lip and Its Limits

Kipling’s life was a testament to the complexities of the “stiff upper lip.” While it undoubtedly helped him navigate the trials of his life, it also prevented him from fully expressing his grief and reconciling with his losses. However, his poems like “If—” continue to inspire generations with their message of courage and resilience, even in the face of unimaginable hardship.

“If” by Rudyard Kipling… (click to view)

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
and treat those two impostors just the same
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

A Legacy of Triumph and Tragedy

Rudyard Kipling was a man of contradictions: a champion of empire and a critic of its injustices, a master storyteller and a grieving father. His life and work serve as a reminder of the human capacity for both extraordinary achievements and profound suffering. Through his words, he continues to challenge us to confront the complexities of history, the limitations of stoicism, and the enduring power of love and loss.

The Longchamp Racecourse and Fashion Promenade

Attracting enormous crowds, by the late 1800s, the Longchamp Racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris had become one of the most fashionable public venues in France.

Spectating at the races was an immensely popular and socially prestigious pastime.

A place to see and be seen, Longchamp was like a giant stage to vaunt one’s social position.

The Races at Longchamps from the Grandstand by Giuseppe de Nittis, 1883

Attended by Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie, who sailed down the Seine River on their private yacht to catch the third race, Longchamp Racecourse opened to the public on Sunday, April 27, 1857.

Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie
Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie

And it wouldn’t only be French Royalty who loved Longchamps—King Edward VII of Great Britain attended too.

The King's carriage leaving Longchamps with French Prime Minister Loubet and British King Edward VII, 1903.
The King’s carriage leaving Longchamps with French Prime Minister Loubet and British King Edward VII, 1903.

Enclosures were reserved for aristocrats and the well-connected and ladies were required to be escorted by a gentleman in order to enter.

The Races At Longchamp In 1874 by Pierre Gavarni (1846 - 1932)
The Races At Longchamp In 1874 by Pierre Gavarni (1846 – 1932)

But grabbing the spotlight was a new class of celebrity: the demimonde.

Supported by wealthy lovers, these were women on the fringes of respectable society.

The Races at Longchamp by Jean-Louis Forain, 1891
The Races at Longchamp by Jean-Louis Forain, 1891

Arriving alone, demimondaine were forbidden access to the enclosures but were as much of a spectacle as the races themselves.

Mixing with society women, they often shared the same couturier but appeared a little more chic.

1908 Longchamp

Attending the Longchamp races as the mistress of wealthy textile heir Étienne Balsan was a young Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.

Although she didn’t quite fit the mold of a typical demimondaine, Gabrielle appeared in the loose, simple dress that would later influence an entire generation of “flappers” during the Roaring Twenties.

Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel
Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel

Paris had become the fashion capital of the world and it wasn’t long before designers realized that Longchamp was a goldmine.

Fashion houses outfitted models with their finest clothes, sending them to the races to show off the latest styles.

Ladies at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris 1908
Ladies at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris 1908

Join us as we travel back in time to the Longchamp Races from 1907 to 1935—a time of elegance and flamboyance that may never be repeated.

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1908 Longchamp
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The Tragic Story of Princess Ka’iulani, “The Island Rose” of Hawaii

Born Victoria Ka’iulani on October 16, 1875, the Crown Princess and heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii was known throughout the world for her intelligence and determination to preserve the Hawaiian monarchy.

Named after Queen Victoria and her maternal aunt Anna Ka’iulani who died young, Princess Ka’iulani’s life, spirit, and legacy are a testament to her love of the Hawaiian people in their hour of need.

Ka ‘iu lani means “the highest point of heaven” or “the royal sacred one” in the Hawaiian language.

Kaiulani, approximately six years old seated holding hat with backdrop of Diamond Head & palm trees in a photo studio
Kaiulani, approximately six years old seated holding hat with backdrop of Diamond Head & palm trees in a photo studio

Descended from the first cousin of Kamehameha the Great, the founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Ka’iulani’s mother was known as Likelike, the sister of the last two ruling monarchs, and her father was Scottish businessman Archibald Scott Cleghorn.

Ka'iulani's parents, Archibald Cleghorn and Likelike
Ka’iulani’s parents, Archibald Cleghorn and Likelike

A marriage across cultures does not always run smoothly and Princess Ka’iulani’s parents struggled.

Expecting to be the master of the household, Cleghorn’s staunch Victorian male chauvinism clashed with the Hawaiian nobility’s belief, regardless of gender, that they should be the ones to rule over others.

Ka'iulani's parents, Archibald Cleghorn and Likelike
Ka’iulani’s parents, Archibald Cleghorn and Likelike
You always blame me in everything and I am getting tired of it. I will have to kill myself then you won’t have me to growl at all the time. I think we are better separated…as you don’t love me and I don’t love you so I will simply say, “God bless the good”Likelike
Archibald Cleghorn (seated) with family and grandchildren. Princess Ka'iulani sits to the right of Cleghorn, c. 1885
Archibald Cleghorn (seated) with family and grandchildren. Princess Ka’iulani sits to the right of Cleghorn, c. 1885

Imperious and quick-tempered, but vivacious and well-liked, Likelike earned a reputation as a kind, gracious hostess.

When Ka’iulani was just 11 years old, Likelike fell ill and never recovered.

It is said that a large school of bright red fish—an omen of death in her family—massed close to shore and that Likelike predicted her daughter would never marry and never become Queen.

Princess Likelike in a formal portrait, taken by James J. Williams, 1880s
Princess Likelike in a formal portrait, taken by James J. Williams, 1880s

Because Princess Ka’iulani was second in line to the throne after her elderly and childless aunt, the young girl was expected to eventually become Queen.

The reigning monarchs, King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi’olani, talked with Cleghorn and the Princess about preparing her for the role with a British education.

Princess Kaiulani in 1889, age 14
Princess Kaiulani in 1889, age 14

Sent to Northamptonshire, England in 1889 at the age of 13, Ka’iulani was given a private education at Great Harrowden Hall.

Excelling in her studies of Latin, Literature, Mathematics, and History, she also took classes in French and German and lessons in tennis and cricket.

Great Harrowden hall, Northamptonshire. Credit M J Richardson
Great Harrowden hall, Northamptonshire. Credit M J Richardson

Growing up knowing the landscape painter Joseph Dwight Strong from her uncle’s court, and Isobel Strong, a lady in waiting under her mother, she showed an early talent for art and took several trips to Scotland and France to study.

'Poppies', an oil on canvas painting by Princess Ka'iulani, 1890
‘Poppies’, an oil on canvas painting by Princess Ka’iulani, 1890

Isobel was the stepdaughter of Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, of “Treasure Island” fame.

The two became good friends and he called her “the island rose” in a poem he wrote in her autograph book.

Princess Ka'iulani at 17 as she attended school at the prestigious Great Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire
Princess Ka’iulani at 17 as she attended school at the prestigious Great Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire
Princess Kaʻiulani wearing a hatband bearing the name of an Orlando-class armored cruiser captained by a family friend, Sir William Wiseman HMS Immortalité
Princess Ka’iulani wearing a hatband bearing the name of an Orlando-class armored cruiser captained by a family friend, Sir William Wiseman HMS Immortalité
Kaiulani in white gown and hat, photograph by J. J. Williams
Kaiulani in white gown and hat, photograph by J. J. Williams

Moving to Brighton in 1892, it felt like a fresh start for Princess Ka’iulani who continued to study in England for the next four years, despite being told she would only be there for one.

Chaperoned and tutored by a Mrs. Rooke who set up a curriculum including German, French and English, the resort by the sea pleased the princess, renewing her enthusiasm.

Arranging for her to have an audience with Queen Victoria as part of a trip around Europe, her Hawaiin overseers had to suddenly cancel all plans in January of 1893.

In a short telegram, she learned that Hawaii had been overthrown.

‘Queen Deposed’, ‘Monarchy Abrogated’, ‘Break News to Princess’.

To honor the name bestowed by Stevenson, she had to summon the spirit of the “island rose” – its thorns as sharp as defiance, its bloom undying in the face of adversity.

Refusing to stand idly by while the home that she loved was swept from under her, she gave a statement to the English press:

Four years ago, at the request of Mr. Thurston, then a Hawaiian Cabinet Minister, I was sent away to England to be educated privately and fitted to the position which by the constitution of Hawaii I was to inherit. For all these years, I have patiently and in exile striven to fit myself for my return this year to my native country. I am now told that Mr. Thurston will be in Washington asking you to take away my flag and my throne. No one tells me even this officially. Have I done anything wrong that this wrong should be done to me and my people? I am coming to Washington to plead for my throne, my nation and my flag. Will not the great American people hear me?
Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii, 1890s
Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii, 1890s

Traveling to the United States to fight against what she saw as a terrible injustice, she gave this speech on her arrival:

Seventy years ago, Christian America sent over Christian men and women to give religion and civilization to Hawaii. Today, three of the sons of those missionaries are at your capitol asking you to undo their father’s work. Who sent them? Who gave them the authority to break the Constitution which they swore they would uphold? Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these ‘Hawaiian’ statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people. Even now I can hear their wail in my heart and it gives me strength and courage and I am strong – strong in the faith of God, strong in the knowledge that I am right, strong in the strength of seventy million people who in this free land will hear my cry and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine!

Despite pleas to U.S. President Grover Cleveland, who brought her plight before Congress, her efforts could not prevent eventual annexation.

Treating Ka’iulani with contempt, the pro-annexation press referred to her in print as a half-breed, calling her “dusky”, although she was saved from the blatantly racist treatment repeatedly given her Aunt, the Queen of Hawaii.

Typical of the time, “positive” accounts of the Princess’ appearance often tried to emphasize what was thought to be “white” about her.

Occasionally, the British half from her father, Archibald Cleghorn, was also disparaged by American writers fearing Great Britain was a rival for possession of Hawaii.

Returning to Europe to finish her education, she received further tragic news that her childhood friend, Robert Louis Stevenson had died and that a new Republic of Hawaii had been established in her absence.

Learning that her half-sister, Annie Cleghorn, and later her English guardian, Theophilus Harris Davies, had both died, a great sadness overwhelmed her and her health started to decline.

Arriving back in Hawaii in 1897, she thought the warmer climate would help her recover, but she continued to deteriorate.

Kaiulani in San Francisco, 1897
Kaiulani in San Francisco, 1897

Even the new house her father had built for her couldn’t lift her spirits as she struggled to readjust to the tropical climate of the Hawaiian islands.

Princess Kaiulani's residence at Ainahau with peacocks on the lawn. The new house was constructed by Archibald Scott Cleghorn for his daughter's return from Europe in 1897
Princess Kaiulani’s residence at Ainahau with peacocks on the lawn. The new house was constructed by Archibald Scott Cleghorn for his daughter’s return from Europe in 1897

Continuing to make public appearances at the urging of her father, she became visibly drawn and emotionally exhausted.

Princess Kaiulani standing on top of steps on the porch of her house at ʻĀinahau; wearing the holoku and a lei
Princess Kaiulani standing on top of steps on the porch of her house at Āinahau; wearing the holoku and a lei
Newspaper article about Princess Ka'iulani's betrothal to Prince Kawānanakoa of Hawaii, 1898

At least there was something to look forward to—the announcement of her engagement to Prince David Kawānanakoa of Hawaii.

The “Island Rose,” heir to the throne and their symbol of resistance, would unite with a prince known for his intelligence and dedication to their land. While shadows of annexation loomed, this union ignited a glimmer of hope for a future rooted in their heritage, where their beloved princess, blooming once more, might guide them through uncertain waters.

Princess Kaiulani seated wearing dress with embroidered bodice for a formal picture, 1897
Princess Kaiulani seated wearing dress with embroidered bodice for a formal picture, 1897
Queen Liliuokalani wearing black in mourning over the annexation of Hawaii

The day Hawaii was annexed as a territory of the United States on August 12, 1898, citizen Ka’iulani and her aunt, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, wore funeral attire to protest what they considered an illegal transaction.

It was bad enough to lose the throne but infinitely worse to have the flag go down…Victoria Ka'iulani

One of the last public appearances of Victoria Ka’iulani was at a party thrown for U.S. Annexation Commissioners the following October.

The luau or banquet at ʻĀinahau for the U.S. Annexation Commissioners, hosted by Princess Kaiulani who is looking towards camera on the left side of the photo. Leslie's Weekly October 20, 1898
The luau or banquet at Āinahau for the U.S. Annexation Commissioners, hosted by Princess Kaiulani who is looking towards camera on the left side of the photo. Leslie’s Weekly October 20, 1898

Riding in the mountains of Hawaii Island in late 1898, Ka’iulani was caught in a storm and came down with a fever and pneumonia.

She died on March 6, 1899 at the age of 23 of inflammatory rheumatism.

Just as her mother had foretold, Ka’iulani wouldn’t get married and would never become Queen.

Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii, 1899
Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii, 1899

Princess Ka’iulani loved peacocks.

Growing up enjoying the company of a flock originally belonging to her mother, she is sometimes called the “Peacock Princess”.

Victoria Kaʻiulani, "the Peacock Princess", 1895
Victoria Ka’iulani, “the Peacock Princess”, 1895

Women’s Fashions of the Late Victorian Era

During the Victorian Era, advances in technology and distribution saw fashion change from an exclusive privilege of the wealthy elites to something that could be enjoyed by ordinary people.

The Industrial Revolution inspired a flowering of creativity in architecture, literature, and decorative and visual arts, all playing a part in influencing the latest fashions.

Changing attitudes to traditional gender roles and the rising middle class meant that by the late Victorian Era, a new age of mass consumerism had begun.

Unlike earlier centuries, when it was commonplace for women to help with the family business, Victorians thought a woman’s place was in the home.

1885 Fashion plate
1885 Fashion plate

Victorian fashion wasn’t utilitarian, it was an expression of position in society.

1888 Fashion Plate
1888 Fashion Plate

The upper class wore clothes adorned with embroideries and trims; the middle class, less extravagant; and the working class, whatever they could afford.

Depicted in this painting is a middle-class woman showing off her newly purchased bonnet at her sister’s modest home.

The New Bonnet by Eastman Johnson, 1876
The New Bonnet by Eastman Johnson, 1876

Casting off the shackles of crinolines of the 1850s and 1860s, the late Victorian era saw several innovations to bring more practicality and mobility to fashion whilst maintaining the volume of fabric.

Introduced in the late 1860s, the bustle was a framework used to expand and support the fullness of a woman’s dress at the back, leaving the front and sides flatter for ease of movement.

Reaching its greatest extension by the mid-1880s, it was popularly boasted that the cantilevers of bustles could support an entire tea service.

1884-86. Dinner Dress. American. Silk. metmuseum
1884-86. Dinner Dress. American. Silk. metmuseum

With women becoming more involved in activities outside the home, fashion designers made changes to suit.

Skirts were given more ground clearance and trains were made simpler, stronger and dragged less on the ground while keeping the same overall form.

1885 Walking Dress. French. House of Worth. Silk, glass. metmuseum
1885 Walking Dress. French. House of Worth. Silk, glass. metmuseum

Abandoned by the 1890s, the bustle evolved into skirts with a much more subtle flow from the wearer’s thin corsetted waist.

Necklines were high, while sleeve size increased.

1892 Dress. American. Silk, cotton
1892 Dress. American. Silk, cotton

Becoming bell-shaped, dresses were made to fit tighter around the hip area.

1892 Dress. American. Silk, cotton
1892 Dress. American. Silk, cotton

While sleeves and bodices initially peaked at the shoulders, size would increase considerably.

1890 Dress. American. Silk, linen
1890 Dress. American. Silk, linen

Beginning in the mid-1890s, exaggerated “leg o’mutton” sleeves grew in size until disappearing in about 1906.

1895 Afternoon jacket. French. Silk, jet, beads
1895 Afternoon jacket. French. Silk, jet, beads
1896 Wedding dress. House of Worth. Silk, pearl. Credit metmuseum
1896 Wedding dress. House of Worth. Silk, pearl. Credit metmuseum
1895 Dress. French. Silk
1895 Dress. French. Silk

Skirts started to take on a graceful, curved, “A-line silhouette”.

1897 Gown. House of Worth
1900 Ball Gown. French. Doucet. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1900 Ball Gown. French. Doucet. Silk, metal. metmuseum

A glittering extravaganza, the neoclassical motifs in the below dress add a texture and lighting effect to stand out at a formal ball.

1890 Evening ensemble. American. Silk. metmuseum
1890 Evening ensemble. American. Silk. metmuseum

Changing attitudes about acceptable activities for women also made sportswear popular, particularly for bicycling and tennis.

Bicycling; The Ladies of the Wheel by François Courboin, 1896
Bicycling; The Ladies of the Wheel by François Courboin, 1896
A june Afternoon by A. B. Frost, 1898
Le Chalet du Cycle au Bois de Boulogne by Jean-Georges Béraud, 1900
Le Chalet du Cycle au Bois de Boulogne by Jean-Georges Béraud, 1900
A Rally by Sir John Lavery, R.A., 1885
A Rally by Sir John Lavery, R.A., 1885

Although introduced much earlier, the riding habit became more practical, with a much simpler, more formal appearance.

Void of embellishments, it was made of tough woolen fabric in a single dark colour and worn with matching hat and veil.

1890 Three-piece Riding Habit. Wool twill, full finish
1890 Three-piece Riding Habit. Wool twill, full finish
The Ride by Pierre Auguste Renoir
The Ride by Pierre Auguste Renoir

Crucial to a respectable appearance were hats and gloves—to be seen bareheaded was simply improper.

1899 Millinery Print. France
1899 Millinery Print. France

Dozens of fanciful designs provided women with almost endless choice.

Fashion plate showing three bust portraits of Jane Harding, Baronne de Carlsberg, and Suzanne, actresses at the Gymnase theater, Paris, wearing hats designed by Madame Carlier
Fashion plate showing three bust portraits of Jane Harding, Baronne de Carlsberg, and Suzanne, actresses at the Gymnase theater, Paris, wearing hats designed by Madame Carlier

Women who wanted a more modest appearance often preferred bonnets but they became associated with a matronly appearance.

The Summer Bonnet by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1893
The Summer Bonnet by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1893
1892 Evening bonnet. American. Silk, cotton, jet, feather. metmuseum
1892 Evening bonnet. American. Silk, cotton, jet, feather. metmuseum
Broadway stage performer and singer, Anna Held

Straw hats were essential summer wear for outdoor activities like croquet.

1890 Hat. American. Leghorn straw, silk chiffon
1890 Hat. American. Leghorn straw, silk chiffon
The Croquet Party by Sir John Lavery, R.A., 1890
The Croquet Party by Sir John Lavery, R.A., 1890

The widening of hats towards the end of the 19th century hinted at the enormous hats that were to follow during the Edwardian era.

A Portrait of a Lady in a Black Hat with a Bouquet of Flowers in her Arms by Edouard Bisson, 1895
A Portrait of a Lady in a Black Hat with a Bouquet of Flowers in her Arms by Edouard Bisson, 1895

The late 1890s returned to the tighter sleeves often with small puffs or ruffles capping the shoulder but fitted to the wrist.

1897 Two-piece dress. House of Rouff. Silk twill and silk cut velvet on twill foundation
1897 Two-piece dress. House of Rouff. Silk twill and silk cut velvet on twill foundation

Indispensable accessories for the Victorian lady, parasols of the late Victorian era were exuberant and lace-covered with extremely fine handle detail.

Here, the bright colours indicative of the French touch on the left contrast with the black parasol for mourning.

1895 - 1900 parasols. Silk, wood, metal, tortoiseshell.metmuseum
1895 – 1900 parasols. Silk, wood, metal, tortoiseshell.metmuseum

From the 1870s to the twentieth century, women’s shoes changed to include higher heels and more pointed toes.

Low-cut pumps were worn for the evening.

Ankle-length laced or buttoned boots were also popular.

Woman's Bar Shoes, 1898
Woman’s Bar Shoes, 1898
1894. Evening slippers. American. Silk
1894. Evening slippers. American. Silk
1890 Eveing boots. French. Silk, metla. metmuseum
1890 Evening boots. French. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1892 Pair of Woman’s Bar Shoes (Wedding). Suede, sueded leather, silk gauze, silk satin
1895 Women's Wedding Boots. Kid leather with sueded leather and pearls
1895 Women’s Wedding Boots. Kid leather with sueded leather and pearls

Those of the upper class who were invited to attend the royal courts of Europe would wear something altogether more extravagant and reminiscent of the 18th century.

As the wife of Washington Augustus Roebling, the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, Emily Warren Roebling ran the day-to-day supervision of the project for a period of fourteen years after husband became ill.

She wore this gown for her formal presentation to Queen Victoria in 1896.

1896 Court Presentation Ensemble. American. Silk, metal, cotton, leather
1896 Court Presentation Ensemble. American. Silk, metal, cotton, leather

Presentation at court was a special event for American women of Roebling’s social status and court protocol dictated the attire.

Lavishly embroidered, the sumptuous textiles and long train are characteristics of a formal gown appropriate for the occasion.

Originally intended to be worn at home for afternoon tea with family and friends, by the late 1900s, tea gowns were worn through the evening for dinner and other events.

Although just as elegant as formal wear, tea gowns were worn without corsets or assistance from a maid.

Comfortable and relaxing, they would be harbingers of things to come.

1900 Tea gown. French. House of Worth. metmuseum
1900 Tea gown. French. House of Worth. metmuseum

By the close of the Victorian era, women were liberated from tight-laced corsets, restrictive layers of crinolined or bustled fabric, and society’s expectation of a woman’s role.

1891 Corset. French. Silk. metmuseum
1891 Corset. French. Silk. metmuseum

There was a new woman in town and she was more confident, self-assured, and ready to meet her true potential than ever before.

No longer were women seen as either “fragile” or “voluptuous” as portrayed in earlier decades, but athletic, emancipated, and ready to enter the workforce.

Gibson Girls in beach attire by Charles Dana Gibson, 1898
Gibson Girls in beach attire by Charles Dana Gibson, 1898

She was the Gibson Girl, and she would fight for the right to vote in the 20th century.

8 Lessons on How to be Polite from Victorian Ladies

First published in 1860 by Florence Hartley and now available for free in the public domain, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness provides full directions for correct manners, deportment, and conversation that are as relevant today as they were 150 years ago.

Contains Amazon affiliate links.

Here are 8 timeless nuggets of advice from a Victorian lady that will help you make more friends, earn more respect, and increase your social currency.

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

politeness is goodness of heart put into daily practice; there can be no true politeness without kindness, purity, singleness of heart, and sensibility.

Florence Hartley warned people against believing that politeness was merely a façade to hide the truth.

She explained that extending courtesy to everyone takes effort and willpower.

In other words, it isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort.

Do’s and don’ts from Florence Hartley:

Do try to set people at ease.

Do practice self-sacrificing, friendly, and unselfish behavior—be genuinely, in word and deed, polite.

Don’t say things in public that may hurt others’ feelings.

Don’t make others feel uncomfortable by putting your own convenience first.

Politeness is a genuine desire to show neighborly love. Without a good heart, politeness is hypocritical and deceitful.

True politeness is the language of a good heart, and those possessing that heart will never, under any circumstances, be rude.

2. Be a Good Listener

Conversation by Mihaly Munkacsy – 1881
The art of conversation consists in the exercise of two fine qualities. You must originate, and you must sympathize; you must possess at the same time the habit of communicating and of listening attentively. The union is rare but irresistible.

Unless you’re with friends, focus your attention squarely on the person you’re conversing with.

Show genuine interest in what the other person is saying.

Do not be distracted by anything said in another group.

Remember, it takes two to make a conversation, so don’t steal the spotlight. Give the other person an opportunity to speak, but avoid silence, or answering in monosyllables.

If your companion relates an incident or tells a story, don’t interrupt with questions part way through—even if you don’t understand something. Wait until she’s finished, and then ask questions.

There is nothing more annoying than being interrupted. Never break in upon another conversation. Wait until the conversation is finished before addressing the person you wanted to speak to.

3. Rudeness repels. Courtesy attracts.

I am not amused. Well … maybe just a little.

Never meet rudeness in others by being rude yourself; even the most impolite will feel more shame by your courtesy, than by attempting to respond in kind.

Politeness forbids any display of resentment.

A favor becomes twice as valuable if granted with courtesy, and the pain of a refusal is softened when expressed with polite regret.

Never by word or action notice the defects of another; always be charitable.

Courtesy is genuine when delivered from the heart.

The polished surface throws back the arrow.
True politeness is being polite at all times, and under all circumstances.

4. Put Your Audience First

People should not talk to please themselves, but to please those who hear them. This helps the speaker ask themselves some important questions:

Is what I’m saying worth hearing?

Is there sufficient wit or sense in what I’m about to say?

Am I adapting my conversation appropriately for the time, place, and audience?

Do’s and Don’ts from Florence Hartley:

Do take care in conversation to avoid topics that might be painful for your companion to hear.

Do turn to another subject as quickly as possible if you perceive you have caused anxiety for your friend.

Don’t hurt the feelings of another for the sake of appearing witty or smart.

Don’t try to impress people with your knowledge, but listen as well as talk, and modestly follow their lead.

Avoid affectation; it is the sure test of a deceitful, vulgar mind. The best cure is to try to have those virtues which you would affect, and then they will appear naturally.

5. Do not criticize or correct anyone

Fair Critics by Charles Courtney Curran – 1887

Florence Hartley strongly advises against correcting others on mispronounced words or grammatical errors that might arise during a conversation.

If you must correct someone, speak to them in private—never in public—and be gentle and kind with how you phrase your critique.

Don’t watch for faults in people, waiting for an opportunity to show your superior wisdom. Let modesty and kind feeling be your guide.

If your companion uses words or expressions which you do not understand, do not feign knowledge or be ashamed of your ignorance, but frankly ask for an explanation.

If you can’t remember names involved in relating an incident, it’s better to avoid the story altogether.

Don’t use substitutes for proper names or places and never phrases like “What-d-ya call it”, “Thingummy”, “What’s his name”.

Do not complete sentences for anyone or anticipate the punchline of a joke or anecdote. Whilst you may have heard the story before, it may be new to others, so let the storyteller finish in their own words.

Be careful, when traveling, not to criticize the native city or country of others by trying to prove how your home is better.

Never discredit an absent friend. It is the height of rudeness. If you put someone down whom others admire, you will most likely be viewed as envious and it will be your own character that comes into question, not the person you are criticizing.

6. Honor the confidentiality of conversations

A Little Tea and Gossip by Robert Payton Reid – 1887

Florence Hartley goes to great lengths to remind us that what people tell us should be assumed to be in confidence.

We should avoid the temptation to tell others what may seem like irresistibly juicy gossip. This is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges given the ease with which we can pass on information today.

But if we abide by it, we are more likely to earn others’ respect and make long-lasting, genuine friendships.

Amongst well-bred persons, every conversation is considered in a measure confidential. A lady or gentleman tacitly confides in you when he (or she) tells you an incident which may cause trouble if repeated, and you violate a confidence as much in such a repetition, as if you were bound over to secrecy. Remember this.

7. The Best Way to Win an Argument is to Avoid One

Avoid argument; it is not a conversation, and frequently leads to ill feeling.

If you are unfortunately drawn into an argument, keep your temper under control, and if you find your adversary is getting agitated, try to introduce a different topic.

The Argument by Albert Beck Wenzell

8. Always be learning.

Read widely and stay up to date on current events.

To be able to converse really well, you must read much, treasure in your memory the pearls of what you read; you must have a quick comprehension, observe passing events, and listen attentively whenever there is any opportunity of acquiring knowledge. A quick tact is necessary, too, in conversation.

10 Fascinating Facts About the Great Exhibition of 1851

In 1851, Great Britain stood at the very pinnacle of industrial and cultural leadership of the world.

But running in parallel was an undercurrent of class inequality, a fear of foreigners, and a contempt for internationalism.

Against this backdrop, Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert organized the first world’s fair as a means to unite nations and encourage economic growth through international trade.

The first of many to come, the Great Exhibition was the symbol of Victorian progress and modernization.

Here are 10 fascinating facts about the Great Exhibition of 1851.

1. The Great Exhibition was a showcase for British pride

Although the Great Exhibition was a platform for countries from around the world to display their own achievements, Britain’s primary concern was to promote its own superiority.

British exhibits held the lead in almost every field where strength, durability, utility and quality were concerned, whether in iron and steel, machinery, or textiles.

It was thought foreign visitors would look positively upon British accomplishments, customs, and institutions—learning more in the six months during the exhibition than the prior thirty-six years since the fall of Napoleon.

The Opening of the Great Exhibition by Queen Victoria on 1 May 1851 by Henry Courtney Selous, 1852
The Opening of the Great Exhibition by Queen Victoria on 1 May 1851 by Henry Courtney Selous, 1852

Great Britain also wanted to instill optimism and the hope for a better future.

Following two difficult decades of political and social upheaval in Europe, Great Britain hoped to convey that technology—particularly its own—was the key to a better future.

One of a pair of extravagant vases with finely painted views of the Crystal Palace on one side, and patriotic portraits of the Queen and Prince Consort on the other. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
One of a pair of extravagant vases designed to be solely exhibition pieces with finely painted views of the Crystal Palace on one side, and patriotic portraits of the Queen and Prince Consort on the other. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Despite being an advocate for internationalism, Prince Albert’s main objective was predominantly a national one—for Great Britain to make clear to the world its role as industrial leader.

The British Department viewed towards the transept
The British Department viewed towards the transept. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Even so, some saw the rise of a new industrial power—one that would threaten Britain’s dominance in years to come.

With the industrial revolution well underway in the United States,  the Great Exhibition was an opportunity for the former British colony to show its machines, products, and agricultural wealth on the world stage.

Unavoidably compared to Great Britain, many looked favorably on the United States’ offerings.

The British Nave - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The British Nave – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

2. The Great Exhibition was a symbol of the Victorian Age

From the 1850’s onward, the term “Victorianism” became popular for describing the strength, bullish superiority, and pride of an ever-improving Britain.

Opening of the Great Exhibition, 1 May 1851 by Eugène Louis Lami
Opening of the Great Exhibition, 1 May 1851 by Eugène Louis Lami. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Colonial raw materials and British art were displayed in the most prestigious parts of the exhibition.

Reflecting it’s important as the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, a disproportionately large area was allocated to India.

Opulently appointed, the India exhibits focused on the trappings of empire rather than technological achievements.

The India exhibit - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The India exhibit – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The India exhibit - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The India exhibit – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The India exhibit - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The India exhibit – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Technology and moving machinery proved popular, as did working exhibits like the entire process of cotton production from spinning to finished cloth.

Drawing attention from the curious-minded were scientific instruments, the like of which most people had never seen before, including electric telegraphs, microscopes, air pumps and barometers, as well as musical, horological, and surgical instruments.

Moving Machinery. A view from The Great Exhibition of 1851
Moving Machinery. A view from The Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Queen Victoria previewed the exhibition the day before the official opening and wrote in her journal “We saw beautiful china from Minton’s factory and beautiful designs”.

The combination of glazed and decorated bone china with unglazed Parian figures was praised by the Great Exhibition jury for its ‘original design, high degree of beauty and harmony of effect’.

Queen Victoria purchased a 116 piece ‘Victoria pierced’ dessert service in bleu celeste at the Great Exhibition.

She was overwhelmed by the spectacular service with allegorical figure supports modelled by Pierre-Emile Jeannest.

Victoria pierced tiered centrepiece for a dessert service
Victoria pierced tiered centrepiece for a dessert service. . © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

She purchased the service as a gift for the Empress of Prussia but gave permission for it to remain on display for the duration of the exhibition.

Vase and cover, Minton (manufacturer), Stoke-on-Trent
Vase and cover, Minton (manufacturer), Stoke-on-Trent. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

3. The Crystal Palace was purpose-built to house the Great Exhibition

Drawing on his experience building greenhouses for the Duke of Devonshire, architect Joseph Paxton designed the largest greenhouse in the world—so spacious was its interior that it fully enclosed some of Hyde Park’s own trees.

The Crystal Palace was an enormous success, considered an architectural marvel, but also an engineering triumph that reflected the importance of the Exhibition itself.

The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park for Grand International Exhibition of 1851
The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park for Grand International Exhibition of 1851
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 - 1863)
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 – 1863)

In the lead-up to the momentous Great Exhibition of 1851, William Makepeace Thackeray’s “May-Day Ode” appeared in The Times, its verses echoing through London’s streets like a triumphant fanfare. Published just one day prior to the opening ceremony, the poem served as more than just an ode to architectural innovation and colonial might.

As though ’twere by a wizard’s rod
As blazing arch of lucid glass
Leaps like a fountain from the grass
To meet the sun.

Thackeray’s lyrical brushstrokes painted the Crystal Palace not just as a testament to human ingenuity, but as a sacred space touched by the divine, bathed in the ethereal light of God’s grace. This literary offering stood as a potent symbol of Britain’s ambition, showcasing not only its industrial prowess and imperial reach, but also its enduring cultural and artistic influence. Open entire poem in a popup window: May-Day Ode

The transept from the Grand Entrance, Souvenir of the Great Exhibition , William Simpson (lithographer), Ackermann & Co. (publisher), 1851, V&A
The transept from the Grand Entrance, Souvenir of the Great Exhibition , William Simpson (lithographer), Ackermann & Co. (publisher), 1851, V&A. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

4. Six Million People visited 13,000 exhibits

Lasting six months, the average daily attendance at the exhibition was 42,831, with a peak attendance of 109,915 on 7 October.

One third of the entire population of Britain visited the Great Exhibition.

Whilst the western half of the building was occupied with exhibits by Great Britain and her colonies and dependencies, the eastern half was filled with foreign exhibits, with their names inscribed on banners suspended over the various divisions.

The Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851. The Foreign Nave by Joseph Nash
The Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851. The Foreign Nave by Joseph Nash. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The United States exhibit - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The United States exhibit – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Canadian exhibit - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The Canadian exhibit – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Guernsey, Jersey, Malta, Ceylon - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
Guernsey, Jersey, Malta, Ceylon – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The China exhibit - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The China exhibit – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Holland section. Visitors are examining stalls showing goods of Dutch deisgn. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Holland section. Visitors are examining stalls showing goods of Dutch deisgn. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Turkey exhibit - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The Turkey exhibit – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Italian Court - Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
The Italian Court – Dickinson’s comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
'Part of the French Court, No. 1 (Sèvres)', with a display of porcelain by the Sèvres factory visible in the background. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘Part of the French Court, No. 1 (Sèvres)’, with a display of porcelain by the Sèvres factory visible in the background. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

5. Numerous Victorian A-list celebrities visited the Great Exhibition

Attending the Great Exhibition were many notable celebrities of the time, including Charles Darwin, Samuel Colt, members of the Orléanist Royal Family and the writers Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot and Alfred Tennyson.

Victorian A-list celebrities
Victorian A-list celebrities: Charles Darwin, George Eliot, Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Charlotte Brontë described her visit:

Yesterday I went for the second time to the Crystal Palace. We remained in it about three hours, and I must say I was more struck with it on this occasion than at my first visit. It is a wonderful place …

Read more …

… vast, strange, new and impossible to describe. Its grandeur does not consist in one thing, but in the unique assemblage of all things. Whatever human industry has created you find there, from the great compartments filled with railway engines and boilers, with mill machinery in full work, with splendid carriages of all kinds, with harness of every description, to the glass-covered and velvet-spread stands loaded with the most gorgeous work of the goldsmith and silversmith, and the carefully guarded caskets full of real diamonds and pearls worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. It may be called a bazaar or a fair, but it is such a bazaar or fair as Eastern genii might have created. It seems as if only magic could have gathered this mass of wealth from all the ends of the earth – as if none but supernatural hands could have arranged it this, with such a blaze and contrast of colours and marvellous power of effect. The multitude filling the great aisles seems ruled and subdued by some invisible influence. Amongst the thirty thousand souls that peopled it the day I was there not one loud noise was to be heard, not one irregular movement seen; the living tide rolls on quietly, with a deep hum like the sea heard from the distance.

6. The Great Exhibition broke through class barriers

Ever present in Victorian society was the nagging guilt that this age of individualism, capitalism, and overwhelming self-confidence could not be embraced by all.

Crushing poverty ran concurrent with enormous wealth.

But Prince Albert was not oblivious to the plight of the poor and was determined to make the Great Exhibition accessible to all.

Ticket prices came down dramatically as the exhibition progressed—in today’s equivalent, prices varied from £311 for a season ticket to about £5 for one day.

Thus even the working classes could afford to attend —four and half million of the cheapest day tickets were sold.

A rank in which no aristocratic distinctions were observed from the doors of the Crystal Palace to the very centre of the Metropolis. The proudest equipage of the peer was obliged to fall in behind the humblest fly or the ugliest Henson; there being no privileged order but the order of arrival.Punch, vol.1, 1851, 190.
The Transept from the South Gallery, The Great Exhibition of 1851. Watercolour over pencil heightened with body colour on buff paper, 1851
The Transept from the South Gallery, The Great Exhibition of 1851. Watercolour over pencil heightened with body colour on buff paper, 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Refreshment Department of the Great International Exhibition of 1851
Refreshment Department of the Great International Exhibition of 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

7. The world’s largest diamond had its own exhibit

The Koh-i-Noor, meaning the “Mountain of Light,” was the world’s largest known diamond in 1851.

One of the most popular attractions of the India exhibit, it was acquired in 1850 as part of the Lahore Treaty.

Dazzling and bewildering, the prismatically separated light of the Koh-i-Noor diamond was a metaphor for the Crystal Palace as a whole.

The eye is completely dazzled by the rich variety of hues which burst upon it on every side.Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue, 1851.

Originally thought to weigh as much as 793 carats, the earliest recorded weight was 186 carats, from which Prince Albert ordered it cut down to 105.6 carats so as to give the much brighter, oval-cut appearance preferred by Victorians—and fit for his Queen.

Today, the Koh-i-Noor diamond is set into The Queen Mother’s Crown and housed in the Tower of London.

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond 'mountain of light'. Credit Ji Ruan, flickr
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond ‘mountain of light’. Credit Ji Ruan, flickr

8. The Great Exhibition was a great success, but was not without controversy

Just as today, there were naysayers who thought the Great Exhibition would be a flop.

Some people feared that in the face of grinding poverty, the building would be gutted by a revolutionary mob.

The folly and absurdity of the Queen in allowing this trumpery must strike every sensible and well-thinking mind, and I am astonished the ministers themselves do not insist on her at least going to Osborne during the Exhibition, as no human being can possibly answer for what may occur on the occasion. The idea … must shock every honest and well-meaning Englishman. But it seems everything is conspiring to lower us in the eyes of Europe.King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover

But the Great Exhibition of 1851 demonstrated the wisdom of internationalism at a time of widespread isolationism in Europe.

Its success inspired Napoleon III to open the second World’s Fair in Paris in 1855 and to hold some of the world’s grandest, including the Exposition Universelle 1889, for which the Eiffel Tower was built as a grand entrance.

By the time of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, attitudes had progressed even further by focusing not on nationalistic prowess, but on the history of the world and its peoples.

9. The profits funded three of London’s most loved museums

Built in the area to the south of the exhibition and nicknamed ‘Albertopolis’, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum were all founded using the surplus profit from the Great Exhibition which amounted to a sum equal to £18 million in today’s money.

Even with the cost of these beautiful buildings, there was enough money left over to set up a trust for grants and scholarships for industrial research that continues to this day.

Victoria and Albert Museum. Credit Nick Garrod, flickr
Victoria and Albert Museum. Credit Nick Garrod, flickr
Inside The Natural History Museum, London. Credit Gene Krasko
Inside The Natural History Museum, London. Credit Gene Krasko
The Modern World gallery in the science museum, london. Credit Geni
The Modern World gallery in the science museum, london. Credit Geni

10. The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936

After the Great Exhibition had come to a close, plans were drawn up to move the entire Crystal Palace structure to a new location in the suburbs of south-east London.

In 1852, the building went into private ownership and was moved to Sydenham, Kent.

Completely dismantled and re-built in the new Beaux-arts style, the greatly enlarged Crystal Palace was opened by Queen Victoria in 1854.

Costing six times as much to move as the original palace had cost to build, it became an extravagant money pit and the owners quickly fell into debt.

Unlike the unmitigated success of the Great Exhibition, the new Crystal Palace was plagued with financial woes.

Although Sunday was the only free day for the working classes, religious observance prevented the palace from opening.

Even when the palace did start to open on Sundays, people had largely lost interest and attendance was low.

Crystal Palace Fire of 1936
Crystal Palace Fire of 1936

Falling into a state of disrepair, and despite a restoration project by Sir Henry Buckland in the 1920s, tragedy struck on 30 November, 1936.

In a few hours we have seen the end of the Crystal Palace. Yet it will live in the memories not only of Englishmen, but the whole world.Sir Henry Buckland.

100,000 people came to watch the blaze, as 89 fire engines and over 400 firemen fought valiantly through the night.

One of the onlookers was Winston Churchill, who said, “this is the end of an age”.

18 Victorian Seaside Pleasure Piers

Britain’s heritage of piers dates from the boom in seaside resorts during the Victorian era.

The first seaside piers were built in England in the early 19th century.

Originally constructed as simple wooden landing stages for boat trips, piers later developed into complex entertainment venues, with ornate pavilions, delicate ironwork, and exotic lighting.

Serving the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight off England’s south coast is the world’s oldest seaside pleasure pier. Ryde Pier opened on 26 July 1814.

It was the introduction of the railways that, for the first time, enabled ordinary folk to travel to seaside resorts.

Opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 by John Dobbin

By 1850, there were a dozen piers at British seaside resorts.

Providing a walkway out to sea, these fashionable and select extensions of the seafront promenade allowed holidaymakers to experience being close to the sea at all times—even at low tide.

As the industrial revolution gained pace, iron piles were introduced that were literally screwed into the ground, providing enough rigidity to support a whole range of entertainments and attractions along the pier’s length, from theaters to penny arcades, from ballrooms to bowling alleys.

Opened in 1855, Margate Pier was the first of this new breed of pleasure pier, catering to the needs of thousands of tourists.

By 1900, there were 80 fully fledged piers, with some seaside towns having two or three piers.

Remarking on the pace of pier development in the 1890s, one commentator said it would be necessary to alter the map of England and represent it as a huge creature of the porcupine type, with gigantic piers instead of quills.

Here are 18 of the most beautiful seaside pleasure piers of the Victorian era.

Margate Pier, Kent, 1855

Margate claims a number of firsts for its once magnificent Victorian pier. It was the first pier from the famous pier designer Eugenius Birch, the first iron pier, and had been an 1100 foot wooden jetty called “Jarvis Landing Stage” since 1824—long before the reign of pleasure piers.

A drifting vessel and storm damage ultimately led to the pier’s demise, with some relics to be found in Margate Museum.

Margate Pier, Kent, England
Margate Pier, Kent, England, 1895

Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier, Norfolk, 1858

Originally measuring 700ft, the wooden structure was used for evening band performances and open air concert parties.

As Great Yarmouth grew in prominence as a holiday destination, the wooden structure was replaced by a steel construction, housing a 2000-seat pavillion.

Great Yarmouth Britannia Pier, England, 1895
Great Yarmouth Britannia Pier, England, 1895
Great Yarmouth promenade and Britannia Pier, England, 1895
Great Yarmouth promenade and Britannia Pier, England, 1895

Southport Pier, Merseyside, 1860

At 3,600 ft, Southport Pier is the second longest pier in Great Britain after Southend Pier, but at one time reached 4380 ft.

A cable operated tramway opened in 1865, running from the promenade to the far end of the pier and a tram has run in various guises ever since, only recently closing in June 2015 due to rising maintenance costs.

Southport Pier and Bridge, England, 1895
Southport Pier and Bridge, England, 1895
Southport Pier and Bridge, England, 1895
Southport Pier and Bridge, England, 1895

Worthing Pier, West Sussex, 1862

Opened as a simple 960-ft promenade deck, Worthing Pier was upgraded in 1888 with a 650-seat pavillion.

When only the stranded pier head remained after storm damage on Easter Monday, 1913, it became affectionately known as “Easter Island”.

Worthing Pier, West Sussex, England, 1895
Worthing Pier, West Sussex, England, 1895

Blackpool North Pier, Lancashire, 1863

Intended only as a promenade, the popularity of Blackpool as a major tourist resort forced the oldest and longest of its three piers to offer other attractions including theatres and bars.

While Blackpool’s other piers entertained the working classes with penny arcades and open air dancing, North Pier attracted an upper-class clientele with orchestral concerts and respectable comedians.

Designed by Eugenius Birch, it is the oldest remaining of his fourteen piers.

Blackpool, North Pier, c. 1895
Blackpool, North Pier, c. 1895
Blackpool North Pier, Lancashire, England, 1895
Blackpool North Pier, Lancashire, England, 1895

Brighton West Pier, East Sussex, 1866

Designed by Eugenius Birch to attract tourism to Brighton, the West Pier was constructed during the 1860s boom in pleasure pier building.

At its peak in 1919, it attracted two million visitors, but its popularity declined after World War II, eventually closing in 1975 after the owners filed for bankruptcy.

Decay and two major fires in 2003 have rendered it a mere shell of its former self.

Brighton Pier, England, 1895
Brighton Pier, England, 1895

Birnbeck Pier, Weston-super-mare, Somerset, 1867

Serving as a boarding point for steamships in the Bristol Channel, Birnbeck Pier was popular with tourists during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is the only pier in England that links the mainland to an island.

Designed by Eugenius Birch, it is designated as part of England’s “Heritage at Risk”, being derelict and vulnerable to further decay since 1994.

Weston-super-Mare, Birnbeck Pier 1895
Weston-super-Mare, Birnbeck Pier 1895

 Saltburn Pier, North Yorkshire, 1869

Arriving in Saltburn in 1861, the Stockton and Darlington Railway prompted a growth in tourism that spurred the construction of a 1500 ft pier with a steamship landing stage and a Cliff Hoist to provide access from the town via the steep cliff.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea Pier and bathing machines, Yorkshire, 1895
Saltburn-by-the-Sea Pier and bathing machines, Yorkshire, 1895

Eastbourne Pier, East Sussex, 1870

Opened by Lord Edward Cavendish, son of the 7th Duke of Devonshire, Eastbourne pier was 1000 ft long and with its bands and theatre, only offered the highest class of entertainment.

At the seaward end was a 400-seat domed pavilion, which was later replaced by a 1000-seat theatre, bar, camera obscura and office suite. Midway along the pier were two saloons.

Designed by Eugenius Birch, it was built on stilts resting on cups on the seabed so that the whole structure could move during rough weather

Eastbourne Pier postcard. Credit Ian Boyle, Simplon Postcards
Eastbourne Pier postcard. Credit Ian Boyle, Simplon Postcards
Eastbourne Pier postcard. Credit Ian Boyle, Simplon Postcards
Eastbourne Pier postcard. Credit Ian Boyle, Simplon Postcards

Clacton Pier, Essex, 1871

The first building in the new resort of Clacton-on-Sea, the pier was originally a wooden structure 480 ft long and 12 ft wide, serving as a docking station for steamships.

Becoming a popular destination for day trips, Clacton Pier was extended in 1893 to 1180 ft and a pavillion and other entertainment facilities were added.

Fire and storm damage caused significant structural weakness, but an ambitious restoration project was undertaken in 1994 to creae a modern amusement park.

Clacton-on-Sea Pier, England, 1895
Clacton-on-Sea Pier, England, 1895
Clacton Pier, Essex, 1895
Clacton Pier, Essex, 1895

Hastings Pier, East Sussex, 1872

Designed by Eugenius Birch—famous for the West Pier at Brighton and Eastbourne’s Pier—Hastings Pier was opened on the first ever August Bank Holiday in 1872.

After a tumultuous history of storm damage, fires, and failed attempts to salvage the pier, it closed in 2008. National Lottery funding in 2012 eventually kickstarted a major redevelopment plan with the pier opening again on 27 April 2016.

Hastings Pier, England, 1895
Hastings Pier, England, 1895

Rhyl Pier, Wales, 1872

Damaged by ships and storms and eventually demolished in 1972, Rhyl Pier once reached out 2,355 ft into the sea in North Wales and included a pier railway.

Beside it stood the five-domed ornate Pavillion Theatre, once a famous Rhyl landmark.

Rhyl Pier, Wales, 1895
Rhyl Pier, Wales, 1895
Rhyl pier sea water baths
Rhyl pier sea water baths

Llandudno Pier, Wales, 1877

At 2295 ft, Llandudno Pier is the longest pier in Wales and is often chosen for Victorian and Edwardian seaside filming locations.

A 2,000-seat Pavillion Theater opened in 1886 with three stories and a flamboyant cast-iron veranda running the entire seaward façade. It burned down in 1994 and was not replaced.

Llandudno Pier, Wales, 1895
Llandudno Pier, Wales, 1895

Skegness Pier, Lincolnshire, 1881

At the time of its opening, the Skegness Pier, at 1,842 ft, was the fourth longest in England.

Featuring a saloon and concert hall at the pier head, it was damaged by a drifting ship in 1919 and today is only 387 ft long.

Skegness Pier, England, 1895
Skegness Pier, England, 1895

Folkestone Pier, Kent, 1888

Opened by Lady Folkestone on 21st July 1888, the pier’s pavilion could seat 800 patrons and provided high-brow entertainments for Folkestone’s largely aristocratic clientele. A stroll on the pier cost 2 pennies.

Folkestone pier, England, 1895
Folkestone pier, England, 1895

Southend Pier, Essex, 1889

Spending time by the sea was considered good for one’s health and many Victorian Londoners came to Southend for this reason.

But the sea recedes at Southend for over a mile, necessitating the original 60o-ft structure to be extended to 7,000 ft, making it the longest pier in Europe and the longest pleasure pier in the world today.

Southend-on-Sea Pier, England, 1895
Southend-on-Sea Pier, England, 1895

Morecambe Pier, Lancashire, 1896

Originally extending 1800 ft into the Irish Sea at Morecambe Bay, the pier suffered storm and fire damage but continued to soldier on, providing entertainment until 1978 when it was finally demolished.

West End Pier, Morecambe, England, 1895
West End Pier, Morecambe, England, 1895
Morecambe West End Pier, England, 1895
Morecambe West End Pier, England, 1895

Herne Bay Pier, Kent, 1899

Completed in 1899, and at 3,787 ft, it was the second longest pier in England until being demolished in 1978.

Still existing today is the restaurant at the pierhead which later became a ticket office and cafe.

At a short distance from the entrance, a large concert marquee housed the local Cremona orchestra and an electric tram cost 1 penny to take people from one end of the pier to the other.

Herne Bay Pier, England
Herne Bay Pier, England, 1895

Colwyn Bay Pier, North Wales, 1900

Opening in June 1900 at a length of 750 ft, the pier included a massive 2500-seat pavillion in the Moorish Revival style.

Boasting a large balcony extending around three sides of the auditorium, the pavilion featured a full orchestra pit.

Despite many changes of ownership due to financial difficulties, fires, and several regeneration attempts, the pier sits in a state of disrepair and collapse.

The promenade at Colwyn Bay, Wales
The promenade at Colwyn Bay, Wales
Colwyn Bay Pier and Pavillion, Wales
Colwyn Bay Pier and Pavillion, Wales

References
Wikipedia
Designing the Seaside: Architecture, Society and Nature by Fred Gray
National Piers Society

A Ghost Story of Christmas

It was the winter of 1843.

Long after the sober folks had gone to bed, Charles Dickens paced the streets of London.

Unaware of time and place, he would walk fifteen or twenty miles many a night, his head filled with thoughts about his latest project.

It was nearly finished.

Victorian London, Drury Lane. Credit spitalfields.com
Victorian London, Drury Lane. Credit spitalfields.com

A Christmas Carol was born of an idea that the best way to bring about awareness for the plight of the poor was through story.

Dickens had considered writing pamphlets and essays, but these were not the ways to reach people’s hearts.

People loved stories.

A few weeks earlier, his friend the Baroness Burdett-Coutts had considered donating to the system of religiously-inspired schools known as the “Ragged Schools”.

She had asked Dickens if he would visit the school at Saffron Hill in London and relay his impressions.

Cruikshank represents a ragged school at the Saffron Hill slum in London, which Charles Dickens visited on behalf of philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts in 1843. This visit undoubtedly shaped his conception of Ignorance and Want — and the importance of elementary education as an antidote to poverty — in A Christmas Carol). (Philip V. Allingham)
Cruikshank represents a ragged school at the Saffron Hill slum in London, which Charles Dickens visited on behalf of philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts in 1843. This visit undoubtedly shaped his conception of Ignorance and Want — and the importance of elementary education as an antidote to poverty — in A Christmas Carol). (Philip V. Allingham)
I have seldom seen in all the strange and dreadful things I have seen in London and elsewhere, anything so shocking as the dire neglect of soul and body exhibited in these children (Mackenzie, Dickens, pp. 143-44).Charles Dickens
Dickens at the Blacking Warehouse. Charles Dickens is here shown as a boy of twelve years of age, working in a factory
Charles Dickens at the Blacking Warehouse as a boy of twelve years of age.

Dickens was shocked with what he saw.

It was his personal experience that imbued him with a sense of duty to help the poor.

Growing up, his father, John Dickens, was imprisoned in Marshalsea debtors prison, while Charles was forced to leave school and work in a blacking factory.

Before the Bankruptcy Act of 1869, debtors in England were routinely imprisoned at the pleasure of their creditors.

Memories of this period would haunt Dickens for the rest of his life.

Although he loved his father, he saw in him a cold-hearted miser, inspiring the dual characters of Ebenezer Scrooge.

The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice…Charles Dickens
Marshalsea Debtors Prison
Marshalsea Debtors Prison

Victorian London was experiencing an economic boom, but one that left the poor behind.

Poverty and Wealth by William Powell Frith, 1888
Poverty and Wealth by William Powell Frith, 1888

Moving to London in search of opportunity from the harsh agrarian life in the country, many became disappointed, disillusioned, and destitute.

The industrial revolution brought huge wealth to a tiny percentage of the population, with the majority scraping a living in damp, noisy factories, and cramped, filthy slums.

A Poor-House by Gustave Doré, c. 1860
A Poor-House by Gustave Doré
Dwellings of the poor in Bethnal Green, water supply 1863. Credit Wellcome Images
Dwellings of the poor in Bethnal Green. Credit Wellcome Images

Dickens and the Baroness felt that education was the solution. At least it gave hope even to the poorest of families that their children might one day break the mould of poverty and join the rising middle class.

With the Saffron Hill Ragged School still playing on his mind, in October of 1843 Dickens visited a workingmen’s educational institute in the industrial city of Manchester, England.

It was here that Dickens had his “eureka moment”.

Instead of writing a journalistic piece on the plight of the poor, he would write a ghost story—A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. Chapman & Hall, London, 1843. First edition. Title page.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. Chapman & Hall, London, 1843. First edition. Title page.

Through story, Dickens asked for people to recognize the plight of those whom the Industrial Revolution had displaced and driven into poverty, and the obligation of society to provide for them humanely.

Critical praise poured in.

A tale to make the reader laugh and cry – to open his hands, and open his heart to charity even toward the uncharitable … a dainty dish to set before a King.the London literary magazine, Athenaeum
a national benefit and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness.William Makepeace Thackeray in Fraser's Magazine
brings the old Christmas of bygone centuries and remote manor houses, into the living rooms of the poor of todayThe New York Times

Scottish writer Margaret Oliphant described it as “a new gospel”.

The impact was astounding.

In the spring of 1844, there was a sudden burst of charitable giving in Britain.

Scottish philosopher and writer, Thomas Carlyle, staged two Christmas dinners after reading the book.

After attending a reading on Christmas Eve in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1867, a Mr Fairbanks closed his factory on Christmas Day and sent every employee a turkey.

British stage actor Sir Squire Bancroft raised £20,000 for the poor by reading A Christmas Carol out loud in public.

With today’s information revolution displacing many livelihoods, the story is as relevant as it was for Charles Dickens.

In advocating the humanitarian focus of the Christmas holiday, Dickens influenced many aspects that are celebrated in Western culture today—family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games and a festive generosity of spirit.

At this time of feasting, let us reflect on A Christmas Carol and the social movement it inspired.

Fatigued Minstrels by Augustus Edwin Mulready, 1883
Fatigued Minstrels by Augustus Edwin Mulready
There a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur-booted, and all chattering at once
There a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur-booted, and all chattering at once
Soup for the poor by Albert Anker
Soup for the poor by Albert Anker
Illustration from A Christmas Carol
Illustration from A Christmas Carol
The Forlorn (Poor Children) by Octave Tassaert - 1855
The Forlorn (Poor Children) by Octave Tassaert
The Christmas Hamper by Robert Braithwaite Martineau
The Christmas Hamper by Robert Braithwaite Martineau
Halfpenny dinners for poor children in East London. Credit Wellcome Images
Halfpenny dinners for poor children in East London. Credit Wellcome Images
Chester Square, Belgravia, London by John Edwin Oldfield
Chester Square, Belgravia, London by John Edwin Oldfield
London Slums
London Slums
Hush! by James Tissot
Hush! by James Tissot
Applicants to Admission to a Casual Ward by Sir Luke Fildes
Applicants to Admission to a Casual Ward by Sir Luke Fildes
The Way by James Tissot
The Way by James Tissot
Some Poor People by Henry la Thangue
Some Poor People by Henry la Thangue
Christmas by Felix Ehrlich, (German, 1866 - 1931)
Christmas by Felix Ehrlich, (German, 1866 – 1931)
Christmas Eve by George H.Yewell
Christmas Eve by George H.Yewell
Happy Christmas by Viggo Johansen
Happy Christmas by Viggo Johansen
The Poor Schoolboy by Antonio Mancini
The Poor Schoolboy by Antonio Mancini

Cléo de Mérode: the Dancer and Celebrity Glamour Model of the Belle Époque

At the age of eight, Cléo de Mérode (1875 – 1966) was already showing the talent that would make her a world renowned dancer of the Belle Époque.

Born in Paris to a Viennese baroness, she entered the Paris Opera ballet school at seven and made her professional debut at age eleven.

But it would be her beauty that stirred the public’s imagination, for Cléo de Mérode was, perhaps, the first real celebrity icon.

Before long, her dancing skills took second stage to her glamour, as postcards and playing cards around the world started featuring her image.

Cléo de Mérode, by Paul Nadar, 1894
Cléo de Mérode, by Paul Nadar, 1894

She was the talk of the town. Her new hairstyle was eagerly awaited and quickly imitated. Famous artists of the Belle Époque, like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Giovanni Boldini, and Félix Nadar queued to sculpt, paint, and photograph her.

Cléo de Merode, by Charles Ogerau, 1895
Cléo de Merode, by Charles Ogerau, 1895
Cléo de Mérode, 1897
Cléo de Mérode, 1897
Cleo De Merode at the Salon by Carlos Vazquez Ubeda (1869 - 1944)
Cleo De Merode at the Salon by Carlos Vazquez Ubeda (1869 – 1944)

Even royalty courted her. In 1896, King Léopold II, having watched her dance at the ballet, became infatuated with her, and rumor soon spread that she was his mistress. The king had fathered two children with a prostitute and her reputation suffered as a consequence.

Cléo de Mérode
Cléo de Mérode

But this was the Belle Époque, a time of unprecedented colonial expansion, the very dawn of modern celebrity culture. Such indiscretions were soon forgotten and Cléo de Mérode became an international star, giving performances across Europe and the United States.

Cléo de Mérode by Giovanni Boldini, 1901
Cléo de Mérode by Giovanni Boldini, 1901
Cleo de Merode, 1903
Cleo de Merode, 1903

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Her decision to dance at the risqué Folies Bergère cabaret only served to heighten her following. And when she met artist Gustav Klimt, whose specialty was female sexuality, a romance blossomed that inspired the 2006 movie Klimt.

Cléo de Merode by Reutlinger
Cléo de Merode by Reutlinger
Cléo de Merode, by Charles Ogerau, 1902
Cléo de Merode, by Charles Ogerau, 1902
Cleo de Merode, 1905
Cleo de Merode, 1905
Cléo de Mérode, 1910
Cléo de Mérode, 1910

Continuing to dance into her early fifties, Mérode eventually retired to the seaside resort of Biarritz in the French Pyrénées. In 1955, she published her autobiography, Le Ballet de ma vie (The Dance of My Life).

Biarritz, 1930s
Biarritz, 1930s

At the ripe old age of 91, the greatest celebrity of the Belle Époque was no more. Cléo de Mérode was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Her spirit still watches over her mother, interred in the same tomb.

Tomb of Cléo de Mérode, the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Credit Lebiblio
Tomb of Cléo de Mérode, the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Credit Lebiblio

Gone forever, but not forgotten.

Cléo de Mérode by Mariano Benlliure, 1910
Cléo de Mérode by Mariano Benlliure, 1910

30 Glorious Paintings of 19th-Century Europe

Have you ever considered taking up painting as a hobby? What would inspire you?

How about hiking through the Austrian Alps and northern Italy?

That’s exactly what awoke a desire to put brush to paper for 19th-century Austrian watercolor artist Rudolf von Alt.

The Dachstein from Vorderer Gosausee by Rudolf von Alt, 1838
The Dachstein from Vorderer Gosausee by Rudolf von Alt, 1838
A view of Vienna from the Prater with figures in the foreground by Rudolf von Alt, 1834
A view of Vienna from the Prater with figures in the foreground by Rudolf von Alt, 1834

A trip to Italy might also work wonders for your creativity.

Von Alt completed a number of paintings featuring the glorious architecture of European cities.

Figures on the Riva degli Schiavone by Rudolf von Alt, 1840
Figures on the Riva degli Schiavone by Rudolf von Alt, 1840
The Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda in Rome by Rudolf von Al, 1835
The Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda in Rome by Rudolf von Al, 1835
St. Peter's from the Vatican Garden by Rudolf von Alt, 1838
St. Peter’s from the Vatican Garden by Rudolf von Alt, 1838
View of Naples by Rudolf von Alt, c1870
View of Naples by Rudolf von Alt, c1870
The Stephansdom from Stock im Eisen Platz by Rudolf Ritter von Alt, 1832
The Stephansdom from Stock im Eisen Platz by Rudolf Ritter von Alt, 1832
The Cathedral Square in Cattaro by Rudolf von Alt, 1841
The Cathedral Square in Cattaro by Rudolf von Alt, 1841
Josefsplatz in Vienna by Rudolf von Alt, 1831
Josefsplatz in Vienna by Rudolf von Alt, 1831
View of Budapest with Chain Bridge and the Royal Palace by Rudolf von Alt, 1880
View of Budapest with Chain Bridge and the Royal Palace by Rudolf von Alt, 1880
Overlooking the Charles Church and the Polytechnic Institute by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
Overlooking the Charles Church and the Polytechnic Institute by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
The Neue Markt (Mehlmarkt) by Rudolf von Alt, 1836
The Neue Markt (Mehlmarkt) by Rudolf von Alt, 1836
The main square in Linz by Rudolf von Alt, 1839
The main square in Linz by Rudolf von Alt, 1839
View of the Basilica San Antonio in Padua by Rudolf von Alt, 1836
View of the Basilica San Antonio in Padua by Rudolf von Alt, 1836
The Esplanade of Ischl by Rudolf von Alt
The Esplanade of Ischl by Rudolf von Alt
Vienna, St. Michael the Hofburg and old Burgtheater by Rudolf von Alt, 1888
Vienna, St. Michael the Hofburg and old Burgtheater by Rudolf von Alt, 1888
Varenna at Lake Como by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
Varenna at Lake Como by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
The Lower Austrian Landhaus in Vienna from Minoritenplatz by Rudolf von Alt, 1845
The Lower Austrian Landhaus in Vienna from Minoritenplatz by Rudolf von Alt, 1845
The Jägerzeile in Vienna by Rudolf von Alt, 1844
The Jägerzeile in Vienna by Rudolf von Alt, 1844
The parish church in Ofen by Rudolf von Alt, 1845
The parish church in Ofen by Rudolf von Alt, 1845
View of the Alservorstadt by Rudolf von Alt, 1872
View of the Alservorstadt by Rudolf von Alt, 1872
The Main Square in Bratislava by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
The Main Square in Bratislava by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
Vienna, Freyung mit Austriabrunnen by Rudolf von Alt, 1847
Vienna, Freyung mit Austriabrunnen by Rudolf von Alt, 1847
Street in Palermo by Rudolf von Alt, 1867
Street in Palermo by Rudolf von Alt, 1867
The Tyn Church in Prague by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
The Tyn Church in Prague by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
View of the Doge's Palace in Venice by Rudolf von Alt, 1874
View of the Doge’s Palace in Venice by Rudolf von Alt, 1874
Bridge Tower Lesser Town in Prague by Rudolf von Alt, 1843
Bridge Tower Lesser Town in Prague by Rudolf von Alt, 1843

Painting interior views was also a much-admired skill of von Alt’s, bringing him a lot of attention in Vienna.

BSalon of Princess Henriette Odescalchi Castle in Hirtenberg by Rudolf von Alt, 1853
BSalon of Princess Henriette Odescalchi Castle in Hirtenberg by Rudolf von Alt, 1853
Staircase of the Upper Belvedere in Vienna by Rudolf von Alt, 1882
Staircase of the Upper Belvedere in Vienna by Rudolf von Alt, 1882
The Japanese Salon, Villa Hügel, Hietzing, Vienna by Rudolf von Alt, 1855
The Japanese Salon, Villa Hügel, Hietzing, Vienna by Rudolf von Alt, 1855

20 Handmade Dolls Tell the History of Fashion

This is the story of how a series of exquisite handmade dolls, representing the history of French haute couture made their way to the United States as an expression of gratitude.

The year was 1948 and France was still suffering from the effects of World War II. Housed in boxcars and dubbed the “Friendship Train”, American aide organizations had sent large-scale relief the year before.

Read more …

Now it was France who wished to show its gratitude for America’s generosity by creating the “Gratitude Train”—a set of 49 box cars filled with French-made gifts, like handmade toys and priceless works of art.

The French fashion houses banded together to create something very special.

They tasked their most talented designers with creating a set of fashion dolls that would show the evolution of French fashion.

Measuring 24 inches tall with bodies made from open wire, the designers used human hair to fashion the hairstyles.

Using period paintings, literature, and fashion plates as references, each designer chose a year between 1715 and 1906.

Representing their creative interpretations, the designers used the same level of care and attention to detail as they did for full size work.

It was a unique moment in the history of French couture.

“1715 Doll”. Marcel Rochas (French, 1902–1955)

"1715 Doll". Marcel Rochas (French, 1902–1955)
“1715 Doll”. Marcel Rochas (French, 1902–1955)

“1733 Doll”. Jean Bader (French)

"1733 Doll". Jean Bader (French)
“1733 Doll”. Jean Bader (French)

“1755 Doll”. A. Reichert (French)

"1755 Doll". A. Reichert (French)
“1755 Doll”. A. Reichert (French)

“1774 Doll”. Jean Dessès (French (born Egypt), Alexandria 1904–1970 Athens)

"1774 Doll". Jean Dessès (French (born Egypt), Alexandria 1904–1970 Athens)
“1774 Doll”. Jean Dessès (French (born Egypt), Alexandria 1904–1970 Athens)

“1779 Doll”. Lucille Manguin

"1779 Doll". Lucille Manguin
“1779 Doll”. Lucille Manguin

“1785 Doll”. Maggy Rouff (French, 1896–1971)

"1785 Doll". Maggy Rouff (French, 1896–1971)
“1785 Doll”. Maggy Rouff (French, 1896–1971)

“1787 Doll”. Mendel

"1787 Doll". Mendel
“1787 Doll”. Mendel

“1791 Doll”. Martial & Armand

"1791 Doll". Martial & Armand
“1791 Doll”. Martial & Armand

“1808 Doll”. Madame Grès (Alix Barton) (French, Paris 1903–1993 Var region)

"1808 Doll". Madame Grès (Alix Barton) (French, Paris 1903–1993 Var region)
“1808 Doll”. Madame Grès (Alix Barton) (French, Paris 1903–1993 Var region)

“1820 Doll”. House of Patou (French, founded 1919)

"1820 Doll". House of Patou (French, founded 1919)
“1820 Doll”. House of Patou (French, founded 1919)

“1828 Doll”. Henriette Beaujeu (French)

"1828 Doll". Henriette Beaujeu (French)
“1828 Doll”. Henriette Beaujeu (French)

“1832 Doll”. Marcelle Dormoy (French)

"1832 Doll". Marcelle Dormoy (French)
“1832 Doll”. Marcelle Dormoy (French)

“1866 Doll”. Marcelle Chaumont (French)

"1866 Doll". Marcelle Chaumont (French)
“1866 Doll”. Marcelle Chaumont (French)

“1867 Doll”. Jacques Fath (French, 1912–1954)

"1867 Doll". Jacques Fath (French, 1912–1954)
“1867 Doll”. Jacques Fath (French, 1912–1954)

“1873 Doll”. Madeleine Vramant (French)

"1873 Doll". Madeleine Vramant (French)
“1873 Doll”. Madeleine Vramant (French)

“1884 Doll”. Nina Ricci (French, 1883–1970)

"1884 Doll". Nina Ricci (French, 1883–1970)
“1884 Doll”. Nina Ricci (French, 1883–1970)

“1892 Doll”. Germaine Lecomte

"1892 Doll". Germaine Lecomte
“1892 Doll”. Germaine Lecomte

“1896 Doll”. Bruyère (French, founded 1928)

"1896 Doll". Bruyère (French, founded 1928)
“1896 Doll”. Bruyère (French, founded 1928)

“1902 Doll”. Robert Piguet (French, born Switzerland, 1901–1953)

"1902 Doll". Robert Piguet (French, born Switzerland, 1901–1953)
“1902 Doll”. Robert Piguet (French, born Switzerland, 1901–1953)

“1906 Doll”. Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)

"1906 Doll". Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)
“1906 Doll”. Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)

References
Metropolitan Museum of Art

40 Fine Art Paintings by Émile Vernon

Émile Vernon (1872-1919) was a French fine arts painter.

Studying at the School of Fine Arts Tours in the Loire Valley, France, he won his first design award in 1888.

Encouraged by this success, he moved to Paris to train under William Bouguereau and Auguste Trouphème in the School of Fine Arts.

Specializing in watercolors, Vernon loved to paint women and children using bright colors in cheerful rural and bucolic settings.

Spring by Emile Vernon, 1913
Spring by Emile Vernon, 1913
Beauty with Flowers Emile Vernon, c. 1910
Beauty with Flowers Emile Vernon, c. 1910
Breton Children Reading Emile Vernon c, 1913
Breton Children Reading Emile Vernon c, 1913
Best of Friends Emile Vernon - 1917
Best of Friends Emile Vernon – 1917
Waiting for the Vet by Emile Vernon - 1919
Waiting for the Vet by Emile Vernon – 1919
Under the Cherry Tree by Emile Vernon - 1899
Under the Cherry Tree by Emile Vernon – 1899
Three Sisters by Emile Vernon - 1912
Three Sisters by Emile Vernon – 1912
Three Graces by Emile Vernonm, Date unknown
Three Graces by Emile Vernonm, Date unknown
The Three Graces by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
The Three Graces by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
A Sweet Glance by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
A Sweet Glance by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
A Summer Rose by Emile Vernon - 1913
A Summer Rose by Emile Vernon – 1913
Summer by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
Summer by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
Roses by Emile Vernon - 1908
Roses by Emile Vernon – 1908
The Rose Girl by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
The Rose Girl by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
Pretty In Pink by Emile Vernon - 1909
Pretty In Pink by Emile Vernon – 1909
Portrait of a Woman by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
Portrait of a Woman by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
Portrait of a Lady by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
Portrait of a Lady by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
Portrait of a Girl by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
Portrait of a Girl by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
New Friends by Emile Vernon, 1917
New Friends by Emile Vernon, 1917
The Little Kittens by Emile Vernon, 1919
The Little Kittens by Emile Vernon, 1919
Her most precious by Emile Vernon - 1919
Her most precious by Emile Vernon – 1919
Girl with Cherry by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Girl with Cherry by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Girls by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Girls by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Girl Holding a Nest by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Girl Holding a Nest by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Girl by the Lemon Tree by Emile Vernon, 1913
Girl by the Lemon Tree by Emile Vernon, 1913
The Flower Garden by Emile Vernon, 1915
The Flower Garden by Emile Vernon, 1915
The Fancy Bonnet by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
The Fancy Bonnet by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
An Elegant Lady With A Yellow Rose by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
An Elegant Lady With A Yellow Rose by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Elegant Lady with a Bouquet of Roses by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Elegant Lady with a Bouquet of Roses by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Young Girl with Anemones by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Young Girl with Anemones by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Young Girl with a Rose by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Young Girl with a Rose by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
A young lady with a mirror by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
A young lady with a mirror by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Elegant Lady with a Bouquet of Roses by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Elegant Lady with a Bouquet of Roses by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Elegant Lady by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Elegant Lady by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Country Summer by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
Country Summer by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
The Cherry Bonnet by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
The Cherry Bonnet by Emile Vernon, Date unknown
Cherry Blossom by Emile Vernon, 1916
Cherry Blossom by Emile Vernon, 1916
The Mischievous Puppy by Emile Vernon, 1915
The Mischievous Puppy by Emile Vernon, 1915
Young Woman with a Dragonfly by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
Young Woman with a Dragonfly by Emile Vernon – Date unknown
The Pink Rose by Emile Vernon - Date unknown
The Pink Rose by Emile Vernon – Date unknown

Crinolinemania – 10 Fascinating Facts About the Crinoline

Just as we chuckle today at the absurd dimensions reached by Victorian crinolines, so too did Victorians themselves.

Shown here is an early inflatable (air tube) version of the crinoline by George Cruikshank, from The Comic Almanack, 1850. Crinolines wouldn’t actually come into wide use until a few years later.

In this humorous example, the exaggerated size of the crinoline meant that the gentlemen had to use long-handled trays (“baker’s peels”) to offer food and drink to their ladies.

A Splendid Spread, satire on an early inflatable (air tube) version of the crinoline by George Cruikshank
A Splendid Spread, satire on an early inflatable (air tube) version of the crinoline by George Cruikshank

If there was one thing such broad crinoline skirts guaranteed the wearer, it was plenty of personal space.

Don’t try to whisper in my ear, or your crinoline will tip up, my dear.
1862 Vienna fashions
1862 Vienna fashions

The fashion became so popular that Punch nicknamed the crinoline craze “Crinolinemania”.

And it’s not difficult to see why—even today, the bell-shaped profile of a crinoline-supported dress lends a fairytale quality to a wedding.

No doubt the impression left by a beautiful Princess and Empress had a bearing on the success of the crinoline.

Princess Dagmar of Denmark and Empress Elisabeth "Sisi" of Austria
Princess Dagmar of Denmark and Empress Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria

Here are 10 facts about the crinoline—some of which you may find surprising.

1. The 16th-century Spanish farthingale was the grandmother of the crinoline

Wide and full skirts were popular as far back as the 15th century.

Queen Consort Joan of Portugal made the hoop skirt popular when she wore one to court.

Originally called the Spanish verdugado and later corrupted to “farthingale” in English, it was alleged that Joan wore it to help hide an illegitimate pregnancy.

There’s nothing like a bit of court gossip to help a fashion’s popularity.

Probably the earliest depiction of the Spanish verdugada (farthingale), Catalonia, 1470-80
Probably the earliest depiction of the Spanish verdugada (farthingale), Catalonia, 1470-80

Introduced to England by Catherine of Aragon when she married the ill-fated 15-year-old Arthur, Prince of Wales, the Spanish farthingale was a petticoat of linen with bands of cane, or whalebone inserted horizontally at intervals.

Gradually widening from the waist to the hem, the cone-shape of the Spanish farthingale became popular with European sovereigns for the remainder of the 16th century.

Spanish farthingale. Clockwise from top left: Catherin de Medici, c. 1555; Queen Elizabeth I of England, c. 1563; Elizabeth of Valois, Queen of Spain, 1565; Isabella of the Spanish Netherlands, 1599
Spanish farthingale. Clockwise from top left: Catherin de Medici, c. 1555; Queen Elizabeth I of England, c. 1563; Elizabeth of Valois, Queen of Spain, 1565; Isabella of the Spanish Netherlands, 1599

2. The crinoline gets its name from horsehair

Described as a combination of the French words crin, meaning horsehair, and lin meaning linen, the name essentially describes the materials used to make the original crinoline, i.e. horsehair and linen.

Used from the early 1840s, the horsehair crinoline supported the weight of other petticoats under the increasingly full, bell-shaped skirts that had become popular.

1842, British, silk. metmuseum
1842, British, silk. metmuseum

Horsehair crinolines reduced the number of required petticoats to achieve the desired profile and offered more freedom of movement for the wearer’s legs.

But they were heavy, uncomfortable, hot and unhygienic—especially during the summer.

What was needed was something lighter, but with more structure. Enter the cage crinoline.

3. Cage crinolines were lightweight and highly flexible

Cage Crinolines
c. 1860 Cage Crinolines. Credit Hugo Maertens (left), metmuseum (right)

The steel-hooped cage crinoline, first patented in April 1856 by R.C. Milliet in Paris, and by their agent in Britain a few months later, became extremely popular.

Although cage crinolines looked very rigid, the spring steel they were made from was very flexible and could be compressed. Aside from the inevitable accidents, women learned how to walk in crinolines and how to sit down in them without revealing underclothes.

Because the spring steel was very lightweight, far from restricting women, they were liberating, freeing women from multiple layers of petticoats worn in prior decades.

The Lady’s Newspaper of 1863 enthusiastically praised the cage crinoline:

So perfect are the wave-like bands that a lady may ascend a steep stair, lean against a table, throw herself into an armchair, pass to her stall at the opera, and occupy a further seat in a carriage, without inconveniencing herself or others, and provoking the rude remarks of observers thus modifying in an important degree, all those peculiarities tending to destroy the modesty of Englishwomen; and lastly, it allows the dress to fall in graceful folds.

4. Cage crinolines were mass-produced in huge quantity

One of the biggest producers was Douglas & Sherwood’s Hoop Skirt Factory in New York. It employed 800 women and produced in excess of 8,000 hoop skirts each day.

Douglas & Sherwood's Hoop Skirt Factory
Douglas & Sherwood’s Hoop Skirt Factory

To make the hoops required a ton of steel per day, and each month the factory would get through 150,000 yards of muslin, 100,000 feet of whalebone, 24,000 spools of cotton, 2,800,000 eyelets, 500,000 yards of tape, 225,000 yards of cord, and 10,000 yards of haircloth.

Douglas & Sherwood's Hoop Skirt Factory
Douglas & Sherwood’s Hoop Skirt Factory

5. There were accidents with crinolines, some tragic and fatal

Overzealous advertising tried to reassure potential customers that their freedom of movement would be unhindered by wearing a cage crinoline.

This gave a false sense of security about the level of care and attention that was needed to avoid accidents while wearing them.

c. 1860. Women wearing crinolines which are set on fire by flames from a domestic fireplace.
c. 1860. Women wearing crinolines which are set on fire by flames from a domestic fireplace.

Not being constantly aware of exactly where the extremities of the dress were could lead to tragedy.

Thousands of women died in the mid-19th century as a result of their hooped skirts catching fire.

Other hazards included the hoops being caught in machinery, carriage wheels, gusts of wind, or other obstacles.

6. Crinolines crossed class barriers

Crinolines were worn by women of every social standing and class across the Western world, from royalty to factory workers.

Princess Alice by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Princess Alice by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Cartoon of Mistress and her Maid in Crinolines
A fashionably dressed woman tells off her maid for wearing a crinoline hoop, unaware that she looks just as ridiculous in hers. Punch, 1861.
1861 Working Class couple enjoying a night at the theatre
1861 Working Class couple enjoying a night at the theatre
Croquet players of 1864 loop their skirts up from floor-length over hooped petticoats. Croquet Scene by Winslow Homer, 1864
Croquet players of 1864 loop their skirts up from floor-length over hooped petticoats. Croquet Scene by Winslow Homer, 1864

 7. Crinolines reached 18 feet in circumference

At its widest point, the crinoline could reach a circumference of up to six yards—providing the perfect opportunity for satirical cartoons to exaggerate dimensions even further.

Emily Madame Bonton says the Circumference of the Crinoline should be Thirty-Six Feet! Caroline Dear me! – I’m only Thirty-Two! I must Inflate a little!
Cartoon in Punch satirizing the circumference of crinolines
Cartoon in Punch satirizing the circumference of crinolines
1860-64, British, silk. metmuseum
1860-64, British, silk. metmuseum
1865, French, silk. memuseum
1865, French, silk. memuseum
1860-64, American, cotton. metmuseum
1860-64, American, cotton. metmuseum
1864 French, silk. metmuseum
1864 French, silk. metmuseum

Contemporary photographs show that many women wore smaller versions of the crinoline, as opposed to the huge bell-shaped creations so often seen in fashion plates. Large crinolines were probably reserved for balls, weddings and other special occasions.

8. Media scrutiny

Widespread media scrutiny and criticism followed the crinoline, from journal articles to poems decrying the fashion, to songs complaining about them.

The crinoline also came under heavy fire from moralists, publicists, and satirists who often condemned the fineries of fashion and sensationalized the most extreme situations—none more so than London’s satirical magazine Punch and New York’s Harper’s Weekly.

Only to think, Julia dear, that our Mothers wore such ridiculous fashions as these! Ha! ha! ha! ha!
1857 Cartoon comparing crinolines to Regency fashion
1857 Cartoon comparing crinolines to Regency fashion
Take care that the Ends of your Hoops be secure; they have been known to give way—to the great alarm and discomfiture of the Lovely Wearer
A fashionably dressed woman is shown with her skirt distorted due to the snapping of several of the hoops that supported her crinoline, much to the amusement of men and women looking on.
A fashionably dressed woman is shown with her skirt distorted due to the snapping of several of the hoops that supported her crinoline, much to the amusement of men and women looking on.
Hint for the Seaside: crinoline forever—no bathing machine required
Two women are shown sea-bathing while wearing crinoline petticoats around their necks as a substitute for bathing tents
Two women are shown sea-bathing while wearing crinoline petticoats around their necks as a substitute for bathing tents

9. Queen Victoria is said to have detested crinolines

Queen Victoria is said to have inspired a song in Punch:

Long live our gracious Queen, Who won’t wear the crinoline!
“I’m not going in this ghastly dress, Albert.”
“But it’s all the rage, my dear.”
“I’ll be the one in a rage if I have to go in this.”

When Queen Victoria’s daughter was married to the Prussian Prince Frederick in 1858, the queen requested the Prussian ladies not to wear crinolines because there was not enough room in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace.

This incident probably led many to believe she disliked crinolines, but numerous photographs show her wearing one.

10. The crinoline craze reached its peak during the early 1860s

Falling out of favor by about 1862, the silhouette of the crinoline changed from bell-shaped to flatter at the front with the fullness projected out more behind.

Called the “crinolette”, it was typically composed of “half hoops” made of the same spring steel

English crinolettes, 1872–75, LACMA
English crinolettes, 1872–75, LACMA

Crinolettes would bridge the gap until the next big fashion craze to sweep the world appeared—the Bustle.

Tissot's Victorian Ladies

Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Costume by Doreen Yarwood
Tudor Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris
Corsets & Crinolines in Victorian Fashion by Lucy Johnstone, V&A Museum
Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic Survey by Alison Gernsheim

10 Facts About the Victorian Tradition of White Weddings

1
White weddings started with Queen Victoria

Although Queen Victoria was not the first monarch to wear white at her wedding, she is credited with starting the tradition of a white wedding when she chose to wear a white wedding dress to marry Prince Albert in 1840.

The Marriage of Queen Victoria, 10 February 1840 by George Hayter
The Marriage of Queen Victoria, 10 February 1840 by George Hayter

2
Wearing white was unusual at the time of her wedding

At the time of Queen Victoria’s wedding, wearing white was considered unusual, but in less than a decade, it was being proclaimed as a long-standing tradition. Godey’s Lady’s Book—the most widely circulated magazine in America—wrote:

Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.
Queen Victoria sported the rounded shoulderline that enhanced the length of her neck—a look that was prized through most of the nineteenth century. From the 1830s to the 1880s, the lowered splayed stance of corset straps and open neckline lent a romantic effect.
Queen Victoria sported the rounded shoulderline that enhanced the length of her neck—a look that was prized through most of the nineteenth century. From the 1830s to the 1880s, the lowered splayed stance of corset straps and open neckline lent a romantic effect.

3
White dresses symbolized innocence and status

Not only did white wedding dresses connote innocence and sexual purity, but because laundry technology was not very advanced in the early Victorian period, they also represented a way to display conspicuous consumption.

White wedding dresses showed that the bride’s family could afford a dress that would be ruined by any type of work, indicating that they must be from the leisure class.

Silk-satin, trimmed with Honiton appliqué lace, machine net and bobbin lace, hand-sewn. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2016
Silk-satin, trimmed with Honiton appliqué lace, machine net and bobbin lace, hand-sewn. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2016

4
Queen Victoria wrote about her wedding dress in her 122-volume diary

Wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Queen Victoria was an avid diarist, filling 122 volumes during her lifetime. Describing her choice of wedding dress, she wrote:

I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch.

5
Victoria’s wedding supported the English lace cottage industry

Examples of Honiton Lace from Honiton, Devon
Examples of Honiton Lace from Honiton, Devon

The lace used for Queen Victoria’s wedding dress was from Honiton in Devon. Lace making was still a cottage industry and her choice demonstrated support for working-class Britain.

The lace comprised of sprigs or motifs made separately and then sewn together into a net.

It is thought Flemish refugees brought the art to England in the mid-to-late 16th century.

6
She commissioned Franz Xaver Winterhalter to paint an anniversary gift for Albert

Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1847. Miniature by John Haslem.
Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1847. Miniature by John Haslem.

In 1847, Victoria commissioned Franz Xaver Winterhalter to paint a portrait of her wearing her wedding clothes as an anniversary present for Prince Albert. The portrait was also copied as an enamel miniature by John Haslem.

7
Her veil was 12 ft long

The veil, which matched the flounce of the dress, was four yards in length and 0.75 yards wide. When Victoria died, she was buried with her wedding veil over her face.

Wedding veils helped promote the Victorian ideal of modesty and propriety. Etiquette books spread the notion that decorous brides were naturally too timid to show their faces in public until they were married.

1868 Wedding Dress. American. Cincinnati Art Museum
1868 Wedding Dress. American. Cincinnati Art Museum

8
She wore specially made matching silk slippers

Queen Victoria's wedding slippers
Queen Victoria’s wedding slippers

Queen Victoria’s white satin slippers matched the white colour of her dress. Long ribbon ties fastening round the ankles held the shoes in place. They were made by Gundry and Son, 1 Soho Square, Boot and Shoemakers to the Queen.

9
Her train needed twelve bridesmaids

A watercolour design for Queen Victoria's twelve bridesmaids' dresses. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2016
A watercolour design for Queen Victoria’s twelve bridesmaids’ dresses. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2016

The train of Queen Victoria’s wedding dress measured 18 feet (5.5 m) long, requiring 12 bridesmaids to carry it.

10
She started a trend followed by millions

Hollywood movie weddings, especially in the second half of the 20th century, have helped the popularity of white weddings.

But British royal weddings have probably done more to ensure the tradition of white weddings is here to stay than anything else.

In 1981, 750 million people tuned in to watch Charles, Prince of Wales marry Diana Spencer in her elaborate white taffeta dress, with a 25-foot-long train. This wedding is generally considered the most influential white wedding of the 20th century—and also the most expensive at an inflation-adjusted $110 million.

Embed from Getty Images

20 Beautiful Cottage Paintings by Victorian Artist Helen Allingham

Helen Allingham (1848 – 1926) was an English watercolour painter and illustrator of the Victorian era.

Displaying a talent for art from an early age, she drew inspiration from her maternal grandmother Sarah Smith Herford and aunt Laura Herford—both accomplished artists.

She attended the National Art Training School in London—now the Royal College of Art.

In 1874, she produced 12 illustrations for the serialised version of Thomas Hardy‘s novel “Far from the Madding Crowd“.

In 1890, she became the first woman to become a full member of the Royal Watercolour Society.

A Cottage With Sunflowers by Helen Allingham
A Cottage With Sunflowers by Helen Allingham
A Surrey Cottage by Helen Allingham
A Surrey Cottage by Helen Allingham
A Mother And Child Entering A Cottage by Helen Allingham
A Mother And Child Entering A Cottage by Helen Allingham
A Cottage Near Crocken Hill by Helen Allingham
A Cottage Near Crocken Hill by Helen Allingham
A Village Street by Helen Allingham
A Village Street by Helen Allingham
An Iltshire Cottage by Helen Allingham
An Iltshire Cottage by Helen Allingham
Children On A Path Outside A Thatched Cottage, West Horsley, Surrey by Helen Allingham
Children On A Path Outside A Thatched Cottage, West Horsley, Surrey by Helen Allingham