The Crinoline Cage - Professor Lynda Nead

20 Feb 2014 52:05 15
105 8

The middle of the nineteenth century was the great age of the crinoline. Lynda Nead examines what this unique fashion meant to women, how it empowered and constrained:

The middle of the nineteenth century was the great age of the crinoline. Dresses became bigger and more ornate; skirts grew wider and wider, devouring metres of fabric and decorated with flounces, fringes and ribbons. The style was facilitated by the development of the sewing machine and technological developments in textile production that introduced new machine-made light, gauzy fabrics, which supplemented the more established and expensive silks and taffetas and were suited to the purses of the middling classes. The key to this fashion, the frame for this confection of fabrics and ornament, was the hooped cage crinoline. Historians have been divided on whether the crinoline turned women into 'exquisite slaves' or was a sign of female assertiveness and subversion.

This lecture will examine the rich visual images from the nineteenth century, analysing cartoons from Punch, extracts from Dickens, letters from Victorian women and paintings by artists such as Franz Winterhalter, the painter of the Royal and Imperial Courts of Europe.

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 1,500 lectures free to access or download from the website.

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