Diane Spaul

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Evening gown by Paul Poiret Gazette du Bon Ton no. 7 NAL 42.NN.7

The couturier who fell from grace

  A brilliant, controversial designer, innovator and pioneer of fashion whose influence has been more fully appreciated since his death. Not Alexander McQueen but French couturier Paul Poiret. Like McQueen he was seen as a maverick, confronting established fashion rules and unafraid to break away from traditional couture techniques. He was one of the first […]

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Flexura Boots  ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Figure Training

 “From the earliest periods of the world’s history down to the present day it has been found necessary to employ systems of restraint and correction calculated to adapt the unformed and unfashioned figure”. Figure training or art the handmaid of nature by EDM was published in 1870, partly as a vindication of altering the human […]

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Brachycombes by Geoge Brookshaw

Every Lady Her Own Drawing Master

One of the main pleasures of taking up a hobby is surely acquiring all the necessary equipment, preferably new, with everything matching and on a professional scale. Women taking up watercolour painting in 1797 obviously felt the same “Every lady who has a taste for painting, furnishes herself with a box of colours, probably eighteen, […]

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John Constable

Your Affectionate Father John Constable

In 1828 John Constable found himself a widower with seven young children. Apart from his own sorrow at the death of his beloved wife Maria, a blow from which he never really recovered, he must also have had to deal with the grief and loss faced by his offspring. As a comparatively well off single […]

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Boris Anrep's Scrapbook ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Cocktails with Boris

When the mosaic floors at the National Gallery designed by Boris Anrep were completed in 1952 there was much excitement and extensive press coverage. A formal gathering at the Gallery was initially thought a fitting celebration but in the end it was left to Anrep’s friend Maud Russell to throw a party. The invitation list […]

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How to dress like a lady

‘How to dress on £15 a year as a lady by a lady’ was published by Frederick Warne in 1873. It was one of series of pocket sized “Useful Books” and cost a shilling. In the introduction, a Lady, actually Millicent Whiteside Cook, author of several books on economy, has no illusions about her work […]

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Boy learning his leassons Christoher and Clementina Smyth

A Voyage to Egypt

What excitement there must have been when the Reverend Christopher Smyth and his wife Clementina left the quiet parish of Woodford, Northamptonshire for an epic journey to Egypt in 1862, with a promise of regular letters home for the village children. It is not hard to imagine how they and probably many adults too would […]

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Lovat drawing crop

A Poppy for Claud

When artist and illustrator Claud Lovat Fraser enlisted in the army in 1914 he had already established himself as a young man with a fine career ahead of him. After a year at Westminster School of Art where he counted Walter Sickert amongst his tutors, he set up a small publishing house with some friends […]

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