Friday, November 19, 2010

Post no. 700 sailor suits and breeching young boys

Well, I am certainly off on a tangent tonight. But since I posted the picture of a little boy in a curls and bows there has been some ongoing discussion on this blog of young boys costume in the 19th century. I can't imagine the use of this information other than a clearer picture of costuming in historical portraits of young boys. Above is a 17th century painting showing a typical enough costume for a young man of the aristocratic classes. He is wearing a dress. That was the common outfit at the time, particularly for young boys still undergoing the rigors of toilet training. When that ended, the child began to be dressed in pants. That was called" breeching" and it was a rite of passage, it represented the point at which the father would take a more active role in the raising of a male child.

Here is a little boy from the 19th century done up in curls and a sailor suit. Boys of the era were given no choice in their wardrobe and their mothers dressed them up as little fops. How they must have doted on these little guys! Below is a portrait by the great 19th century portrait painter to royalty, Winterhalter. In 1846 Prince Albert of Wales was dressed in a miniature version of the suit worn by the sailors on the royal yacht. This created a sensation and the sailor suit for young boys became the fashion. Below is Winterhalters portrait of young Albert in the sailor suit. Engravings in the popular press popularized the idea in the 1870's.

An alert reader pointed out to me that Renoir had painted a picture of "Madame Charpentier and Her Children. One of those two children is a boy, I don't know which, but they are both done up in little dresses and curls.

Sargent painted several more little boys in girlish costumes below is Mrs. Edward L. Davis and her son Livingston.

And below is Caspar Goodrich also by John Sargent..

I have a few spaces left in the three day workshop to be held in Charleston, South Carolina. It will be fun to meet those of you who read this blog from the low country. As usual the workshop is open to all levels of experience and will run from Saturday, December 11 until Monday the 13th. I will teach outside and will demonstrate in the morning and then run from easel to easel teaching for the afternoon. I can save you years of screwing around learning to paint outside.
Here is the link to sign up. Class size is limited to 10 and given the short notice on this one might be very small indeed. People are starting to sign up, so reserve your spot.


barbara b. land of boz said...

I just played catch-up and I am so laughing... everything from fur balls to the sexing of small children who wear dresses.
You know, it just is what it is...
I love Sargents works, so his choice of bedmates don't bother me.
Another run of thought bending posts Stapleton thank you!

Unknown said...

In that painting of Mrs. Charpentier and Children,I just wonder how he, or anyone, could paint children and dogs (poor dog - the kid is sitting on him) and have them maintain any kind of pose...
I used to put dresses on my dog.

Robert J. Simone said...

The boy is the one with the cigar in her/his mouth!

Kevin Mizner said...

Great posts on Sargent, and young boys, Stape! The Saturday Evening Post dated Aug 10, 1918 has a cover by Norman Rockwell depicting a young boy gleefully getting his long, curly hair cut by a suave, debonair barber as the boys tearful Mother looks on. The boy probably had graduated to breeches, and was anxious for the next step to male adulthood--pants!
BTW, the dissection of Sargents technique was priceless. Thanks!

billspaintingmn said...

I wish I had known this info when I was a kid.
My parents, and grandparents ribbed
me about the long hair and bell bottoms my generation sported. It was the hip thing.(those 60's)
Only to find out their generation was bit odd.
That's why I promised myself I would not trouble people about their choices in life. Or music, or art, or faith, or food, or...

Jean Spitzer said...

I knew someone who said his mother dressed him like a girl when he was young. Now it seems less strange.

willek said...

and in the 1960's and 70's grown women started to dress like men. Men grew long hair and women got short haircuts. Young girls and old ladies wore trowsers... Twiggy and her look became popular. Girls stopped wearing certain undergarments... the sexes became a jumble and "unisex" arrived...then grown men started to dress like women and went shopping and walked around... and, we're told, as couples enter their dotage, they begin to look like one another and talk and sound like one another. All this is probably because they started those practices back in the days you're talking about. I think you are on to something there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, I am glad to be bending minds.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think he probably had photos too, also that dog looks very patient. I had an old golden that the kids sat on, he was careful never to get off lest they fall down. Dogs are often very good with children. Your dog is going to heaven.

Stapleton Kearns said...

He is.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I missed that issue.

Stapleton Kearns said...

They were probably not old enough to remember this fashion.,

Stapleton Kearns said...

It is odd how something so common then has been forgotten now.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Where are you going with this, man?

J Hopper said...

How about Renoir's Coco?! I also have a photo of my great uncle, with my grandfather - he's a little fellow with longish blond hair and in a white frock/dress. Unfortunately he died young and I never met him.