Gainsborough: Boys' Fasgions



Figure 1.--This Gainsbourough masterpiece shows the Baillie family in 1784. The boy in the detail shown here wears a velvet and lace outfit styled somewhat like a 17th century cavalier. In fact the boy wears an early version of the skeleton suit that was beginning to dominate boys' fashions. Click on the image for a view of the entire portrait.

While Gainsbourgh's most famous portraits of boys were boys costumed in 17th century cavaler fashions, he also painted boys in contemporary styles. We see unbreeched boys in dresses. A good example is Master John Heathcote wearing a long white dress with a blue sash. Gainborough painted the boy about 1771. Most of the portraits show boys dressed much like their fathers, only in smaller sized. At the end of his career, however, boys began to appear in a new destinctive child's fashion-the skeketon suit. The 1784 portrait of the Baillie family, for example, shows a boy in an early version of the skeleton suit. He wears a comfortable looking, bu fancy open lace collar. The pants have big buttons attaching to the jacket. Note the foreshortened trousers and buttons. The pants, while not yet long pants, are longer than knee breeches and fall unclosed. Like many boys in late 18th century portraits, he wears a sash around his waist. Another difference between the late 18th and early 19th century outfits is that the boy wears buckle shoes rather than strap shoes.

Dresses

While Gainsbourgh's most famous portraits of boys were boys costumed in 17th century cavaler fashions, he also painted boys in contemporary styles. We see unbreeched boys in dresses. A good example is Master John Heathcote wearing a long white dress with a blue sash. Gainborough painted the boy about 1771. There is a very sad story behind the painting. John Heathcote was the son of an aristocratic parents. The portrait was painted when the boy was 4-5 in 1771 as a keepsake for the family who had recently lost ALL their other children in an epidemic. It goes to show wealth doesn't prevent tragedy.

Adult Styles

Most of the portraits show boys dressed much like their fathers, only in smaller sized.

Sketon Suits

Gainsborough at the end of his career, however, boys began to appear in a new destinctive child's fashion-the skeketon suit. The 1784 portrait of the Baillie family, for example, shows a boy in an early version of the skeleton suit. He wears a comfortable looking, bu fancy open lace collar. The pants have big buttons attaching to the jacket. Note the foreshortened trousers and buttons. The pants, while not yet long pants, are longer than knee breeches and fall unclosed. Like many boys in late 18th century portraits, he wears a sash around his waist. Another difference between the late 18th and early 19th century outfits is that the boy wears buckle shoes rather than strap shoes.








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Created: 6:21 AM 7/28/2010
Last updated: 6:22 AM 7/28/2010