1614-1618 Diana Cecil by William Larkin (Kenwood House - Hampstead, London UK)

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Diana Cecil's dress is an amazing tour de force of slashing in this portrait by William Larkin.

According to Ribeiro and Cumming in The Visual History of Costume, p. 105 (1989), "Note  An unusual use of material provides a focus of attention for this transitional fashion, which occurred between the formal court style of the farthingale and a more naturalistic line. Body-hanging sleeves billow out around the main sleeve, but are attached and turned back at the elbow to reveal the lining silk. The skirt has a flattering, natural line, but the smooth pattern of applied embroidery and slashing on the bodice and side skirts is given a three-dimensional quality on the hanging sleeves and central area of the skirt by skillful pattern realignment and extravagant use of material.

Accessories  The ribbon bracelets - one attached to a ring, the ropes of pearls, and plain fan appear secondary to the large, lace-edged handkerchief which is an expensive accessory rather than a functional necessity."

Her head emerges from a ruff that could have been worn by Queen Elizabeth. Her bodice is adorned with two columns of paired slashes while her necklace is caught up on a florette on her bodice. There is no sign of a wheel farthingale. Her cuffs are back flared but composed of several layers of lace. The gold decoration at the bottom of her over-skirt complements that of her underskirt, although the underskirt slashes are omnidirectional while the overskirt slashes are vertical.

Portraits like this and that of Frances Howard suggest fashion was adrift at this time. Her van Dyck portraits are consistent with fashion of that era.

Keywords:  1614, Larkin, Diana Cecil, Cecil family, de Vere family, Countess, British, neck ruff, lace, cuffs, fan, slashing, earrings, false sleeves, hanging sleeves, high enclosing neckline, rosettes, vee waistline, under-skirt, handkerchief


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