Fancy woman from New York City

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.25 x 6 inches (the bottom half inch has been cut off just below the image).

What I know about it:

Photographer is Newman Photographic Art Studio of New York.  (Around 1895  is penciled lightly on the back next to a price, leading me to suspect that this date was added later by a collector or dealer, rather than someone with first-hand knowledge of the portrait.)

Comments:

With her shapely silhouette encased in a gown of elaborately assembled patterns and fabrics, and a hat bedecked with bows and what may be part, if not all, of a bird, this woman presents an arresting image.

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4 comments on “Fancy woman from New York City”

  1. Her clothes and hat look to be from the mid-to-late 1890s; 1895 is a little too early, I think, because of the size of her sleeves. In my study of Victorian fashion, I saw that the peak of sleeve size was 1895/6, and that the sleeve puffs were allowed to look softer and less stiff as they decreased in size towards 1900. Her sleeve puffs are about half the size of the widest ones I’ve seen in 1890s photos, and they look a little droopy around her elbow. And, a bird, or bird parts on her hat? Definitely the style in the 1880s and 1890s.

    Her dress is interesting because it almost looks like it’s made of a printed fabric with a black/dark gauze or net over it — you can see the dark overlay on the pleats over her neckline/shoulders, and also on her right arm near her elbow, where the fabric wrinkles. If so, that’s an interesting way of making a fabric look different for day wear (I’ve seen that technique used on evening dress, but not day dress).

    • I certainly don’t pretend to be an expert on these things, so I appreciate all the detailed information. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  2. Around 1895 would have been my guess too, based mostly on the embellishment and the shape. The asymmetric yoke/bodice is fascinating, with the gathered, almost translucent gauzy fabric in the center, and then the very puffy upper sleeves. It would not surprise me if this lady was some sort of actress or entertainer. Yours in costuming, L isa A

    • I hadn’t thought that she might be an entertainer, but you could be right. I do have one or two others (men, mostly) who strike me as being actors or entertainers, though they aren’t labeled as such.


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