Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Russian Court Trains

This is my new favorite picture (it is an 1838 painting of women in the Winter Palace). Let's analyze why.

Actually, it is a small part of this larger picture, which has fabulously dashing uniforms.I love them.

But back to the trains! I am not, in fact, super interested in Russian court trains - they are absolutely beautiful, but not the sort of thing I have a lot of opportunity to wear, so not something I am planning to make very soon. But I am interested in court trains generally, and I am working on one now (I'll write about it when I actually make any progress). The reason I think this painting is so amazing is because the women are not posed. Whenever I see a painting from early in the century, or a photograph from late in the century, women in court trains are perfectly posed, with their trains artfully arranged in a swoop around their feet or carefully spread behind them. Like so.

This is fine if you are sitting still while someone takes a picture or paints a portrait of you. But realistically, what do you do at a ball or a party? Do you carefully let your train drag behind you? We all know this gets your train dirty, but I suppose you don't care if you are some duchess with a slew of seamstresses who can re-line the thing before its next wearing. But it also means your train won't lie as beautifully flat as you think. Seriously, how do you maneuver in one of these? Well, this more candid-style painting shows these women with their trains draped over their arms. Brilliant! Now when I make my court train, I won't be afraid to carry it around when I don't feel like letting it drag.

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