Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My turn soon?

The Green?Blue?Turquoise?Teal? Mme Pompadour gown painted by Boucher.
So many people have recreated this ensemble, and while they all have their merits, I need to be blatantly honest.
For myself personally, of all the recreations I've seen (those intending to be direct replicas) there is always something amiss.
Now you might be saying to yourself, "well that's rude of you to say. Someone worked very hard on that gown and you don't have the right...".
Wrong (along with the right of free speech), this is not a post to tear anyone down.
It's one to inspire. Each recreation I have seen of this gown has been great in it's own way, and a wonderful homage to it and the woman who wore it.
I merely have my own vision as to how to go about actually *replicating* such a gown, rather than making a version of it.

The ribbon will prove a challenge; taffeta with a spaced multiple satin stripe and pinked edges all around.

***Ooh, Edit time! After closer inspection, it looks as though the ribbons actually have a picot edge instead of pinking. The ends do have it, with a double scalloped pinked edge. Looks like I'm going to need to get my man to make me some pinking tools...or at least show me how.

The one thing that has stood out the most when it comes to all the versions I've seen from other seamstresses, is the color and fabric choice.
It will vary from light as a pale blue, to a dark forest green, and everything in between.
Likely this is due to all the images available on the internet, many of which have poor color and resolution, and fail at representing the colors of the original.
My guess on the fabric? It was a bluish green silk taffeta, lighter than the dark green shades I've seen it made in, but definitely more on the green side. I can already tell you that I foresee many fabric swatches in my future.

One must see the actual painting to get an idea of what the true color of her gown was,
and even the color of the paint on the canvas will have changed a little over the centuries.
When will I be able to see this painting in person? Who knows, perhaps never.
I've traveled the globe and have seen nearly all Europe has to offer in its museums, but I somehow missed this particular one.
But, I can at least allow myself a few guesses in this project. Realistically, I won't be able to claim it as a perfectly exact replica if I do attempt it. The exact weave of the silk, the exact shade of the pink ribbon, the curves of the tiny petals on each miniscule rose.
There is simply no way, unless I had an unlimited budget to have these things custom woven and created by insane artisans throughout France and Asia.

The hardest part I think, will be the ribbon that adorns the stomacher and sleeves. But if I'm crafty, and I have a few ideas, I'll be able to have this gown quite close to hers.
The other fun part; recreating the set for the photo shoot ;-)


  1. Concerning colour: I think the main problem in replicating a certain colour is the fact that different fabric dyes were used back then. People used natural dyes which tend to be more uneven and less intense, there were no artificial/chemical dyes like we have in today's industrially-dyed fabrics. Maybe that's one of the reasons for unsatisfactory colours in recreations.

    1. dress is very beautiful - blue or green - indifferent -
      Now we are waiting for your dress - a la Pompadour

    2. Of many gowns I've seen in collections from the 18th century, the colors all seemed pretty even. The silk threads were dyed, not the fabric post-weaving. But I agree, there are some colors and weights of silk we just don't see anymore. Or at least very hard to find mass produced.

  2. Hi Vienna,

    I have seen the painting several times and in reality it is more blueish than I thought, but this has nothing to say as the "natural" colours of paintings can be falsifyed by all the varnish that has been applied over the centuries.

    What is also very difficult to get is the lace for the trimming! In my opinion it is a very delicate silverlace.

    I can recommend you the cataloque " Madame de Pompadour - L'Art et l'Amour" there must also be an english version as this exhibition that I have seen in Munich was also in London, it has high resolutin Pictures of all Portraits of her.

    1. I have always thought so too; a really cool toned green if it was on the green spectrum at all. Thanks for the info ;-)

  3. I can't recall the source unfortunatly, but I've read that Bouchr made at least two versions of this portrait and that he changed the colour on the gown as well, so it's much bluer on one of them. That may explain why the gown colour varies so much. I look forward to see your version!


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