Monday, September 5, 2011

Apparently I couldn't be a courtesan if I tried

It seems I do not have the sensibilities of a courtesan. This is my second Italian gown and I keep insisting on picking "matronly" dresses without knowing it. The first one was pretty obvious, what with the 3 little kids. Then I found out about all the additional symbolic supports to Camilla's position as a good mother with the zibillino, her jewelry, and such. This time around I managed to pick another model of virtuous womanhood based solely on the fact that I like her dress and hat.  I was, of course, aware of the story of the rape and suicide of Lucretia from Livy, but I didn't pick the painting for its title, just the dress.  Shows me for not thinking.

I found a really interesting article on Lucretia here. It goes into an explanation of this unusual painting of a woman that emphasis her virtue and chastity by depicting her in a masculine pose and giving her thus "manly virtue." She is apparently more active and virile in motion as opposed to being docile and self contained as an ideal woman would be. Its a fascinating read. 

Also of interest is the Elizabeth Taylor version of "Taming of the Shrew." The costume designer chose to put Kate in a version of this dress for the speech in Act 5 scene 2. I think it adds another intriguing layer to the interpretation of the "submission' speech.

I love having lots to mull over while I sew.  It makes the time go faster and builds the excitement for getting to wear it.

The bodice is patterned, I just have to calculate how I'm going to assemble the patchwork and mark a second version of the pattern for the fashion fabric.  Should get it cut tonight.


  1. Thanks for sharing that! I knew about the "little dog of fidelity", but I had no idea about the symbolism of the rest. I am definitely re-thinking my Venetian courtesan garb now...

  2. I don't know that you have to rethink anything, since its not so much the dress as the accessories and the conventions of how it is painted and wearing it around somewhere isn't going to give you those issues. :)