Daria Koshkina

Сreation of the doll inspired by the painting of Mary, Countess Howe

Gainsborough is one of my favorite artists, and the portrait of Mary Howe is undoubtedly one of his masterpieces. So I wanted to make a doll based on this painting. As a rule, Gainsborough avoided references to classical antiquity through costume, as was popular with other 18th century British artists like Joshua Reynolds, who sought to create a sense of timelessness. Gainsborough believed that contemporary dress helped to capture a true likeness of a sitter and here Countess Howe is shown in the most fashionable attire of the 1760s. She wears a gown of pink silk taffeta; a ‘Robe à l’Anglaise’, known for its precise cut, construction and simple trimmings. This gown is complimented with more than a dozen accessorise including a transparent ‘fichu’ edged with bobbin lace and an embroidered apron of silk gauze or cotton muslin. Several tiers of ruffled lace, known as ‘engageantes’, attached to the end of the sleeves, cascade down over the countess’s lower arm, adding an additional bulk and prestige to her appearance. Her outfit is completed with a striking wide-brimmed straw ‘leghorn’ hat, which would have been imported from Livorno in Italy. Infrared and x-ray images of the painting show that Gainsborough made several corrections and revisions to the costume and it is evident that these features were carefully considered.
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