Tuesday 6 February 2024

Hollar’s summer

About ten years ago I published blog posts covering Hollar’s Autumn and Spring seasons, and a post on Winter clothing in Hollar, but for some reason I never looked at summer.

Hollar’s Seasons

According to Pennington Hollar produced six series of Seasons, of which the last three are not English. The English series are: full length women, three quarter length, and slightly less than three quarter length. Here we have the three-quarter length (P611 – the P numbers are the numbers given to Hollar prints by Parthey, and are also used by Pennington). The view is probably that from Arundel House towards Westminster and Lambeth. (1)  [Figure 1] The inscription underneath reads:

In summer when wee walk to take the ayre,

Wee thus are vayl’d to keep our faces faire

And lest our beautie should be soyl’s with sweate

Wee with our ayrie fannes depell the heate.

Figure 1: Summer P611


The full length (P607) shows a view across St James’s Park to the new Banqueting House. [Figure 2]

The English inscription below it is:

How Phoebus, crowns our Sumer days

With stronger heate and brighter rayes

 Her lovely neck, and brest are bare,

 Whilst her fann does cool the Ayre.

Figure 2: Summer P607

The veils.

Summer, in both prints, wears a dark translucent veil to cover her face and keep her complexion fair. These veils maybe made of tiffany. Holland’s translation of Pliny speaks of, “The invention of that fine silke, Tiffanie, … which instead of apparell to cover and hide, shew women naked through them.” (2) In 1618 the Howard accounts have “3 yards of black tiffany 3s 6d.” (3) Tiffany was also used for fine gorgets (neckwear) and cuffs, and the Hertford accounts in 1641 have “for a tiffiny gorgett handkercher and cuffs for my Ladie Francis.” (4)

Hair ornaments

Underneath the veil on the three-quarter length can be seen an ornament or bow in the side of her hair. The gentry and nobility, who often wore their hair uncovered, might decorate their hair with bows, feathers, or jewels. A rope of pearls or similar around the bun, as in the 1642 portrait of Elizabeth of Bohemia or jewelled bow, as in a portrait of Henrietta Maria, is common. This fashion caused Stubbs the eternal complainer, to write that hair was “hanged with bugles, gewgaws and trinkets besides.” (5) A survival of this type of ornament is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. [Figure 3]

Figure 3: Hair ornament. c.1650. Victoria & Albert Museum


Neckwear and wristwear

While the inscription states that, “Her lovely neck, and brest are bare,” she does have bands, pinners or tuckers, the terminology is uncertain, around her neck. From the side view on the full length summer, you can see a darted, lace edged band, that is probably tucked into the neckline. This is the outer band you can see on the three quarter length, and both have a very deep lace edge, this may be similar in construction to the plain partlet collar in the Manchester Collection. (6) It might also be like the band, again in the Manchester Collection, where the linen band turns into a lace edging across the top of the stomacher. [Figure 4] 

Figure 4: Lace edged band. c.1625-40. Manchester Art Gallery


The cuffs are also heavily laced, but are not the same lace as the band. Bands and cuffs were often made as sets. In 1646 the account book of Rachel, Countess of Bath, has “for handkerchief, band and cuffs welted in the Old Exchange 12s” This means that she purchased them at the Royal Exchange in the City of London, called the Old Exchange to differentiate it from the New Exchange, which was opened on the Strand in 1609. Rachel also had a bandwoman, Miss Watson, to make up her linens, and in 1648 paid, “for one laced hand[kerchief] & cuffs 10s 6d” (7)


The bodice – stays with sleeves

The sleeves

Both the summers have similar sleeves ending just above the wrist. These are in two parts, the top half is solid, while the lower section is paned, that is the fabric is in panels or panes, only held together at the top and bottom. Randle Holme said of sleeves that, “there is as much variety of fashion as days in the year.” (8). This maybe the sleeve and half sleeve that he writes of, but in many cases that is solid in both the upper and lower sections, as in the three-quarter length autumn, and full length spring. (9)

The body

The body comes down to a sharp point at the front, with small continuous tabs at the waist. This seems very similar to the 1645-55 stays with sleeves in the Museum of London (A7044 – these are not listed on the MoL website, but are described in Patterns of Fashion 5) (10)

The petticoat

In the full-length summer, the petticoat appears to be bunched up and held at the side, to show the under petticoat. The under petticoat has a scalloped hem. Few petticoats survive from this period, but scalloped edgings can be seen in surviving bodies, such as the 1630s example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and as hems in portraits such as that of Lady Frances Cranfield, Countess of Dorset.


Although it is summer both women have gloves, worn out of doors in the full-length and held in the hand for the three-quarter length. They would appear to come most of the way up to the elbow, and may be like these white leather examples in The Glove Collection, which are 41cm (16 inches) long. [Figure 5]

Figure 5: Gloves. c.1685. Glove Collection Trust

Both prints have folding fans. Folding fans come in two types at this time. Brise fans are where the sticks themselves form the fan, as in a 1620s example in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The other form is where a fan leaf, which can be paper, linen, or other fabrics, a lovely example of a folding fan of this type from 1650-1700 is in the Royal Collection. [Figure 6]  It is painted on linen with tortoiseshell guards and sticks.  Another folding fan in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is découpé, which means that it is cut to produce a pattern, in this case to look like reticella lace. 

Figure 6: Fan. 1650-1700. Royal Collection Trust.



1. Pennington, Richard. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etched Work of Wenceslaus Hollar 1607-1677. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2010.

2. Holland, P. The Historie of the World, Commonly called The Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. London : Adam Islip, 1601.

3. Ornsby, G. ed. Selections from the Household Books of the Lord William Howard of Naworth Castle. Publications of the Surtees Society. 1878, Vol. 68.

4. Morgan, F. C. Private Purse Accounts of the Marquis of Hertford, Michaelmas 1641-2. Antiquaries Journal. 1945, Vols. 25, 12-42, pp. 12-42.

5. Stubbes, Philip. Anatomie of Abuses. London : Richard Jones, 1583. https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/the-anatomy-of-abuses-by-philip-stubbes-1583.

6. Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 4. London : Macmillan, 2008.

7. Gray, Todd. Devon Household Accounts 1627-59. Part 2 . Exeter : Devon and Cornwall Record Society, new series, vol. 39, 1996.

8. Holme, Randle. The academy of armory. [Online] 1688. [Cited: March 31, 2022.] https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A44230.0001.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext.

9. Hollar, Wenceslaus. The Four Seasons, with an introduction by J. L. Nevinson and topographical notes by Ann Saunders. London : The Costume Society, 1979.

10. Arnold, Janet,. Patterns of Fashion 5: the content, cut, construction and context of bodies, stays, hoops and rumps, c.1595-1795. London : The School of Historical Dress, 2018.