Monday 12 May 2014

Hollar's Spring

Having previously done a blog post on Hollar’s Winter I thought to do one on his Spring. There are several series that Hollar did of the seasons, only two are covered here. The first are the three quarter length engravings done in 1641, and these were published by Robert Peake who was a lieutenant colonel at Basing House during the siege, and had according to John Evelyn, ‘the most choice’ of prints in London. (Griffiths, 2004) The second series of Seasons, the full length ones, date from 1643-4, and were published by Peter Stent. (Nevinson, 1979)
The three quarter length Spring is shown indoors and in front of a window through which you can see an unknown house. (Pennington, 2002) She has the following ditty below her:
               “Fur fare you well the winter is quite gone
               and beauty’s quarter now is coming on
When nature striveth most to show her pride
our beauty being the chief we must not hide.”

In case you hadn’t taken the point her muff is shown in an open box ready to be locked away, and she points with one hand to a vase of spring flowers, while the other hand holds a bunch of tulips. This is just after the supposed “tulipmania” in Holland which reached its apogee in 1637. (Goldgar, 2007)
The full length Spring is shown outdoors in front of an unidentified house and gardens. The ditty below her reads:
               Welcom sweet lady you doe bring
               Rich presents of a hopeful Spring
That maketh earth to look so greene
As when she first began to teeme

The clothing of the two women is very similar, but different.

Both have a two layer neck-kerchief edged with bobbin lace, fastened high at the neck, and obviously shaped to it. A linen band of this type, though not as fine or transparent survives in the V&A collection, and a pattern has been produced by North and Tiramani (2012). A second collar is underneath and follows the neckline of the bodice, these usually consist of two pieces of fabric. One piece tucks into the neckline and holds the collar in place, though it may also be pinned. The second piece is the bit that shows and is darted to shape and edged with a broad bobbin lace. Again the Victoria and Albert Museum has a survival, with matching cuffs, and it has been described and a pattern produced in the first North and Tiramani (2011) book. The cuffs on the three quarter length spring do not appear to match the collar, although on the full length spring they may be a scaled down version.

The stomacher fronted bodice on both is long and pointed, very different from the higher more rounded styles that appears in Hollar’s slightly earlier Ornatus Muliebris Anglinicanus, published in 1640, however the long pointed front is very similar in style to the 1642 portrait of Elizabeth of Bohemia by Gerrit van Honthorst. On the full length spring it has what may be a fake cross lacing, however the 1660-1680 pink stays in the V&A have similar lacing and produce a similar effect.  The three quarter length has what appears to be a stomacher front with what could be lines of braiding across it and a central line of braid up the middle, but there would appear to be something on the centre front whenever the cross braids cover the braid going up, though this is difficult to see clearly. Both bodices have some form of peplum, which is a sort of short skirt, ruffle or tabs attached to the bodice at the waist. On the full length spring this appears to be continuous or made up of several sections joined together, as it is on two extant examples in the Museum of London, patterns for which are given in Waugh (1968). Neither of these garments, a cream damask and a blue watered silk, appear to be on the Museum of London website. The peplum of the three quarter length may be of individual tabs, it is difficult to see as her arm covers most of them, however there appears to be a braid trim which goes around the edge of each tab. The sleeves on both outfits are double sleeves. The inner sleeve is three quarter length, and the outer sleeve comes just above the elbow. An extant example of this is in the V&A Museum, but unfortunately there is no photograph on the website, Waugh (1968) gives a pattern.

The skirt on the three quarter length is open to show a striped or braided petticoat underneath. The skirt on the full length goes all the way around.

Both women wear their hair uncovered, with side ringlets and the centre hair pulled back, presumably into a bun. Both have some type of decorative ornament in their hair. In addition both appear to be carrying a small feathered fan, or feather edged mirror, suspended from the waist.

Goldgar, A., 2007. Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Griffiths, A., 2004. Peake, Sir Robert (c.1605–1667), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition. [Online] Available at:
[Accessed 10th May 2014].
Nevinson, J. L., 1979. The four seasons of Wenceslaus Hollar, with an introduction by J. L. Nevinson and topographical notes by Ann Saunders. London: The Costume Society.
North, S. and Tiramani, J. eds., 2011. Seventeenth century women's dress patterns, book 1. London: Victoria and Albert Museum.
North, S. and Tiramani, J. eds., 2012. Seventeenth century women's dress patterns, book 2. London: Victoria and Albert Museum.
Pennington, R., 2002. A descriptive catalogue of the etched work of Wenceslaus Hollar.. Cambridge: CUP .
Waugh, N., 1968. The cut of women's clothes 1600-1930. London: Faber.

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