ca. 1581-1582 - A Ball at the Court of Henri III by French school (Versailles)

Watch your step Lords and Ladies!

The French farthingale distended the classic Spanish farthingale with a concealed bum roll resulting in gowns like these.

The ladies wear distended, French, farthingales. The next step was to put a fluted ring over the top of the skirt to make a wheel farthingale.

The variety of necklines and ruffs is interesting. The gowns of the ladies facing the viewer, at this distance, seem to have plunging vee necklines. Presumably the illusion is caused by revers framing a stomacher that has a square or crescent neckline not seen at this distance and resolution. The lady at the right wears false sleeves. According to Blum in Laver, ed. Costume of the Western World, p. 53 (USA ed. 1951) - "All the gowns except those of the two Queens (the King's wife and mother) have quilted bodices coming to a point below the waist to accentuate the width of the the heavily padded farthingale puffing out the skirt."

Norris had a note about the seated lady to the left foreground in Tudor Costume and Fashion, p. 664 (Dover re-issue 1997) - "The seated lady... is seen in the foreground to the left of the painting... The front of her dress... is of satin of a pale shade. The sleeves are embroidered with a design arranged diaperwise over the whole surface. Other small motifs or fancy ornaments were used decorate such bolonoise sleeves. A modish note is the manner in which the collar or ribband , or both, worn round the decolletage is fastened with an ornament or bow in the center of the back. Also the back of the coiffure should be noticed." (This is one of a pair of paintings and the other allowed him to comment about the front of her gown. - gogm)

Keywords:  1581, dancing, ruff, French farthingale, puffed sleeves, hair jewelry, necklace, jeweled sleeves, under-skirt


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