Thursday 17 April 2014

Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset: 1613 portrait and 1617 inventory

Richard Sackville by William Larkin, 1613

Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset (1589-1624) succeeded to the title on the death of his father, Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl of Dorset (1560/61–1609).  He was married in 1609 to Anne Clifford (1590-1676), who is probably best known for her diary of the period 1616-19. The marriage was not particularly happy, Sackville was unfaithful and extravagant, he was once described as “a man of spirit and talent, but a licentious spendthrift.” (Jacob, 1974) Anne had a long running legal case against her uncle in respect of her father’s will, and in 1617 Sackville signed away her claim in return for monies which he used to pay off his gambling debts. (Spence, 2014)
The painting shown here was produced by William Larkin around 1613. We actually have an inventory of Sackville’s clothing, now in the Kent Archive Office and dated 2nd June 1617, which lists what appears to be this suit. Every item worn in the portrait is described with the exceptions of his shirt, shoes and hat, although the shoe rose (MacTaggart, 1980)
s and hat band are described. They appear in the inventory as items 35 to 44
The spellings have been modernised.  Terms which appear in the list in bold have notes or definitions at the end; these notes are in alphabetical order.

35 Item one cloak of uncut velvet black laced with seven embroidered laces of gold and black silk and above the borders powdered with slips of satin embroidered and lined with shag of black silver and gold
36 Item one doublet of cloth of silver embroidered all over in slips of satin black and gold
37 Item one pair of black silk grosgrain hose cut upon white cloth of sliver and embroidered all over with slips of black satin and gold
38 Item one girdle and hangers of white cloth of silver embroidered with slips of black satin and gold.
39 Item one pair of gloves with tops of white cloth of silver embroidered with slips of black satin and gold laced with gold and silver lace.
41 Item one black pair of taffeta garters edge round with a small edging lace of gold and silver
42 Item one pair of roses of black ribbon laced with gold and silver lace.
43 Item one pair of white silk stockings embroidered with gold silver and black silk
44 Item a hatband embroidered with gold and silver upon black taffeta made up with gold and silver lace. 

Item 40 does not appear in the painting it is another pair of stockings, this time “black silk stockings embroidered with gold and silver.”

Girdle and hangers: A girdle is a belt worn around the waist usually to carry light articles, when paired with the term hanger, a type of sword, it indicates a belt for a sword. 

Grosgrain: Although at later dates this is usually described as a corded fabric, the original use comes from the French meaning of a large or coarse grain. The OED describes it as “A coarse fabric of silk, of mohair and wool, or of these mixed with silk; often stiffened with gum.” (OED, 2014)

Hatband: The hat with its hatband is on the table behind Sackville. Hatbands also followed fashion causing the playwright Dekker (1609) to comment that a gallant would, “take off his hat to none unless his hatband be of a newer fashion than yours.” 

Detail of Layton jacket
Lace: when used in the sense of “a small edging lace of gold and silver” on the garters, shoe roses or gloves, then this probably is a bobbin lace made of gold or silver thread, as in this edging (right) to the Layton jacket in the V&A. However  when the term is used, as it is for the cloak “embroidered laces of gold and black silk” then it is more likely to be an ornamental braid appliqued onto the fabric, as in this late sixteenth century cloak in the Museum of London  a rear view of the same cloak can be seen here

Roses: The rise and fall of the shoe rose is cover in a blogpost here.  Peacham (1618) complained that shoe roses were so expensive they could be “from thirty shillings to three, four and five pounds the pair.”

Shag: Shag is any fabric with a long raised pile – think of shag carpets for a modern use of the term. It may look like fur when seen in a painting.  A surviving garment with shag is Francis Verney’s loose gown from c.1608, surprisingly I cannot find this in the National Trust’s image database, but it is available here

Slips: Slips are embroidered motifs which are worked and then cut out and appliqued onto a, usually more expensive, ground fabric. Sometimes the slips survive on their own without their backing fabric as in this example, sold by Bonhams, or this in the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Uncut examples, where the motif was worked, but it was never used, also survive.

Dekker, T., 1609. The gull's hornbook. s.l.:s.n.
Jacob, J., 1974. The Suffolk Collection: catalogue of paintings. London: Greater London Council.
MacTaggart, P. and A., 1980. The rich wearing apparel of Richard, 3rd Earl of Dorset. Costume, Volume 14.
OED, 2014. Oxford English Dictionary. grosgrain. [Online] Available at:
[Accessed 16th April 2014].
Peacham, H., 1618. The truth of our times.. London: s.n.
Spence, R. T., 2014. Oxford dictionary of national biography. Anne Clifford. [Online]
Available at: [Accessed 15th April 2014].

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