On Entering The Drawing-Room Only The Father, Son, And Daughter Were  Assembled

"On Entering The Drawing-Room Only The Father, Son, And Daughter Were Assembled." by George Du Maurier for Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1880). Plate 5 Thomas Hardy's A Laodicean.

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Although Du Maurier is not always precise in his rendering textual details, he is always careful in his depiction of fashionable clothing . The female dancers in the fourth plate, for example, are wearing the sheath-like dress of the late 1870s and the promenade dress "with double plastron front and half short sleeves" (Cunnington 516) and draped skirt. The gentlemen at the garden party wear fashionable frock coats, narrow-striped tight slacks, and narrow-pointed boots. In plate 5, the dinner scene at Myrtle Villa, the gentlemen are wearing evening-dress coats; straight trousers; thin, black bow ties; and starched-front shirts.

The Sensation contents of the third and succeeding chapters of Book Two, "Dare and Havill," offer many more interesting passages for illustration than Du Maurier's choice of yet another drawing room scene. The charged moment when Dare positions his revolver mere inches from Havill's forehead or Somerset's dialogue with the chief constable about mysterious intruders in his castle office the night before naturally suggest themselves -- or, if the artist were determined to introduce Captain William de Stancy, why did he not elect to describe the arrival of the artillery regiment at Toneborough Camp with the splendidly attired officer on horseback, sword drawn? Instead, Du Maurier has chosen Myrtle Villa and its denizens in formal evening wear, including Somerset, who ought to be dressed in morning coat instead, ready for his journey.

References

Cunnington, C. Willet, and Phillis Cunnington. Handbook of English Costume in the Nineteenth Century. Boston: Plays, 1970.


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Last modified 11 May 2001