1620 Elizabeth Foulks of Mountnessing, Lady Style, by the English school (Weiss Gallery)

Fashion confusion is demonstrated in this 1620 portrait of Elizabeth Foulks,

Detail-enhanced by gogm.

The farthingale is going away, replaced by a less stiff skirt. The neckline is cut low but filled in. The ruff has become highly modified, almost a collar. The lavish headdress is absent. Her dress is still influenced by the saya with a cape and false sleeves.

The Weiss gallery had these notes:  "This splendid late Jacobean full-length portrait by an unknown artist represents Elizabeth Foulks, the sole heir of Robert Foulks of Mountnessing, Essex. It can be dated on costume to circa 1620, that is to say after her marriage in around 1615, to Thomas Style of Wateringbury, Kent. Her husband had studied at Oxford and in 1606 he was admitted to study Law at the Middle Temple in London. He was created a Baronet in 1627 and was Sheriff of Kent in 1632-3. Her husband died on 18 October 1637 at his house in St John’s Lane, Smithfield, and was buried in the Church at Wateringbury. Elizabeth herself died on 20 May 1660. The couple had four children; a son and heir Thomas, who was born in 1624, and three daughters, Elizabeth, Susan and Anne.

Lady Style is wearing an elegant and fashionable dress. The costume is lavish, both in terms of material and motifs. The skirt is silk woven with gold and embroidered with silver thread, adorned with spangles and pearls, and decorated motifs of flowers and fruits - such as cherries, strawberries, pomegranates and acorns. It also has a large ‘S’ pattern, which may perhaps be a play on the Style family name. Her gown is made of lush red velvet, which is embroidered along the edges. The ruff, partlet and double sleeves are made up of the finest delicate organza silk lace. The jewellery she wears also reflects her wealth and status, for it consists of no less than six rows of pearl strings along her décolletage, as well as large red coral beads looped around her wrists. She also has an expensive feather fan suspended from her waist. The small book of prayers, or sonnets, she holds in her hand is a reminder of the more spiritual or cerebral side of her character – a counterpoint to the worldly riches she wears."

Keywords:  1620, British, neckline ruff, lace, fan, square neckline, curly coiffure, cuffs, partlet, hanging sleeves, draped necklace, bracelets, geometric pattern in dress, vee waistline, full skirt


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