The Copper Dress

Oil on Tin, circa 1770


The fashion during the late eighteenth century was for hair to be piled high with the help of animal wool pads. Dressing the hair was a lengthy and costly process so a lady’s head was typically only “opened” (this was the term used) every couple of months by which time the untreated wool could be pretty pungent! The fashion remained in vogue nonetheless until the mid-1780s with the hair being topped with feathers, ribbons or more elaborate structures like a basket of fruit or even a bird’s nest!

This lady’s hair is not dressed extravagantly high though and is unadorned. She is wearing a copper-coloured décolleté robe with a white underslip and has a black ribbon necklace tied at the back as was the fashion during the 1770s.

The portrait is painted in oil on convex metal, probably tin, and is set in a gilt wood frame with a piecrust edge and inner beaded border. The portrait has minor spots of in-painting to the background but is otherwise fine. The frame has been re-gilded so is rather shiny.

Item Ref. 6788

Size: framed, 238 x 200mm (9⅜ x 7⅞")