ca. 1595 Mary Fitton by a follower of George Gower (location unknown to gogm)

Mary Fitton wears a dress with exaggerated everything in this 1595 portrait.

I had stated it was at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. However, Alessandro Conficoni advises that he contacted them and was informed that they never had it.

The serrate edges of her false sleeves were chic for a brief period. The square-shaped grid of tufted cloth of the bodice and sleeves was in style at this time. The filigree headdress also appears in many, especially Spanish, portraits of the era. Her bodice appears to stab into the wheel, an impression enhanced by her white or silver stomacher and sleeves. It looks like the rest of her bodice was of a color matching the wheel, capelets, and skirt.

Norris dissected this painting in some detail in Tudor Costume and Fashion, pp. 638-640 (Dover re-issue 1997): "...the costume exemplifies the climax of late Elizabethan fashion and elaboration. The stomacher (front part of the bodice- gogm) and sleeves are of white satin, very elaborately embroidered with silver and cuttes... The skirt of pale strawberry satin draped over the wheel farthingale is covered with embroidery of cross-bars of of silver to suggest a basket, over which flowers and leaves are mingled with frogs, flies, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, snails, and slugs, all in their natural colorings. A charming accessory is a miniature... in a black enamel case with a gold rim, and suspended at the neck by a fine black cord. The ruff is fairly simple, but the head attire of silver wires, spangles, and pearls is indeed wonderful. Sir Edward must have been a wealthy man to supply his daughter with a dress like this!"*** She is identified by some writers with the "dark lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets, was the daughter of Sir Edward Fitton of Gawsworth, Cheshire, and was baptized on the 24th of June 1578. 

Keywords:  1595, Gower, wheel farthingale, ruff, jeweled headdress, attifet, English, straight coiffure, square decolletage, jeweled headdress, framing headdress, necklace, earrings, full puffed sleeves, hanging sleeves, stomacher, revers, pendant


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