Thursday, September 17, 2015

Georgiana's Habits

The Brentford Race
There are tons of mostly satirical and often scandalous political cartoons of the Duchess of Devonshire in 1784.  She defied convention and canvassed tirelessly for Charles James Fox during the Westminster election of that year and garnered a lot of negative attention as a result.  Many of the cartoons are purposely unflattering, playing up masculine elements in her looks and dress, because it was considered unlady-like for Georgiana to be canvassing for Fox in this way.  Some even show her with a 5 o'clock shadow!

But I thought these cartoons might be a great source for what she might have actually worn in the way of riding habits.  So I went through a bunch of online image archives and culled the ones depicting her in a riding habit (or at least a jacket) and made close ups of them.  I've linked sources to the titles of the cartoons below each image.  While they ARE political cartoons and we don't know that she actually wore any of these outfits, we DO know she wore both buff and blue and riding habits often enough that they were often mentioned in the press.

It's interesting to see that when she's depicted wearing a riding habit they seem to fall into two distinct styles.  Ones which are overtly military and slightly old fashioned looking like the one of the right or these below:



The force of friendship

The state of scrutiny's end

The rival canvassers
The Fox and Geese Triumphant

Her grace carrying a plumper for Charley
Sexual innuendo as well as the commonly expressed accusation that she exchanged kisses for votes

And habits that to my eye look a bit more fashionable and true to 1780s styles like these:

Vox Populi, vox dei
Georgiana's "shield of virtue" is protecting Fox

Fatal Ambition or Reynard at his wit's end (Georgiana is the middle lady)

The Departure - Harriet, Georgiana's sister who often canvassed with her, Charles Fox and Georgiana 

The Two Patriotic Duchess's on their Canvass - Harriet left and Georgiana right
Another accusation that Georgiana and Harriet exchanged votes for kisses
Fox and Burke as Hudibras and Ralpho
A certain duchess kissing old swelter in the grease the butcher for his vote
"Old-Swelter-in-the-Grease" !!
The Duchesses Purchasing a Brush - Harriet and Georgiana
Probably a riff on the quote that "Her Grace sometimes rides about in a black riding habit,
which is very convenient in case she should enter into a contract with a chimney sweeper." 

But you'll notice they all have one thing in common - the hat!  When wearing a habit she is always depicted wearing a large hat with feathers, and often fox tails and a cockade or ribbon favor which says "Fox."

I'll do another post sometime soon on the other fashions Georgiana wears in the political cartoons.

No comments:

Post a Comment