11.30.2009

the Sartorialist*—1850s edition

High collars, tall hats, slim tailoring, a flamboyant touch of plaid, these fellows have got it going on. Stylists and men's designers take note:


California News, c.1851
The top-hatted fellow listening to the latest news about the Gold Rush is the attraction for me here. The dove gray beaver hat, and light vest and cravat are a nice contrast to the suit, all sharply accessorized with a walking stick and teeny tiny spectacles. Notice the extreme curve of the hat brim— this ain't Abe Lincoln's stovepipe. Also note the spotted ascot of the chap in the middle.



I like the long disheveled hair with the proper high cravat (it trumps an obligatory flaccid tie any day, no?) and light-colored, shawl-collar waistcoat. He looks somewhat nervous-tempered, like a pianist.


Looking more like a French Symbolist or character out of Dostoyevsky, American painter and architect Rembrandt Lockwood seems wary and nearly overcome by weltschmerz. He sports a variation of the oiled "wave" or pompadour hairstyle common at the time. His high buttoned coat with broad contrast collar, wide sleeves and large decorative buttons has an oddly loose fit—all the better to stash that phial of laudanum.


Pairing the soft, salmon-colored cravat (loosely bow tied over a spread collar shirt) with a corn-colored silk waistcoat is genius. The slightly worn hat (suede? felt?) and frock coat are the perfect counterpoint to the dandified embellishments. His earring and modified goatee add a frisson of the Roma to the casual but still carefully crafted look.



William Sydney Mount, genre painter (see below)
I'm not usually one for abundant facial hair but there's something rakishly appealing going on here— dude is a player. It's difficult to tell exactly, but he appears to have on a flashy silk neckerchief in a small pattern and large paisley (?) border. I don't love the wide, tubular cut of the trousers, nor the fit of the oddly abbreviated jacket (it's not a cutaway coat because we dont see any evidence of tails) but he manages to cut a dashing figure never the less. Note that behind the left leg (his right) you can see the stand of the photographer's head brace.


George Cunnabell Howard, actor
Inventive layering, and a narrow, slope-shoulder silhouette, carried off with great aplomb. Love the long fitted sleeve. Impeccable.



Another full-whiskered gentleman. A careful study in contrast, his casual hat and bushy locks seem to be at odds with the slim-shoulder coat, high spread collar and fine kid gloves. The outfit is subdued but not without flourish: black silk neckerchief fixed with a (ivory?) pin, extremely wide lapels, down-played check trousers and dandyish long cuffs.

Pimpin'! Junior Orson Welles is working the plaid on plaid.


paintings by William Sydney Mount
California News
, above
(his self portrait is at front right) and The Bone Player, top 

*Oh of course it's not the real Sartorialist. 
 All daguerreotype images from Library of Congress, except top, from, Art and the Empire City, New York 1825-1861.

8 comments:

Little Brown Sparrow said...

Dang...that nervous piano type is making me wish I had a time machine.

angela said...

I agree! and that William Sydney Mount looks like bad news but I'm all over it.

male said...

I downloaded the daggy-airs last night, nice post as usual . . . I know off Scott Schuman and love his contacts & reports but those early 1850 shots weren't from him? Congrats on un-earthing them, in fact after I'm finished with Vestas I'm planning to scan and show my early colonial tintypes and the likes . . .
mal E ( + Bh

angela said...

Oh no this is the imitation Sartorialist! A bit of fancy.

I'd love to see your collection! post soon!

male said...

oi! . . . I just managed to post the remaining vesta/match label posts to ephemeral-male. Now I'll lay out the early Australian tin types . . . you never identified where these portraits were sourced? Do they belong to you? They are smashing! Stay tuned as they say.

angela said...

Ha! I could only dream these were in my personal collection! I finally noted my sources--Library of Congress and a great book, Art and the Empire City.

miladawley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chrissy said...

I love that hat brim on the first photo, so rakish!

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