This jacket originally belonged to the costume historian Doris Langley Moore, whose collection formed the basis of the Museum of Costume in Bath, now the Fashion Museum. It is accompanied by the original catalogue card, stating that it was designed by Worth in the 1890s and given, in the Second World War, to the ballerina Margot Fonteyn; she had it altered by Mathilda Etches, and subsequently returned it to Doris Langley Moore. John Bright acquired the jacket from Doris Langley Moore’s estate, and felt she had kept it for sentimental reasons as it had been neither part of the Bath bequest nor previously sold on.
Both Fonteyn and the couturier Mathilda Etches were friends of Doris Langley Moore, modelling garments for her book The Woman in Fashion of 1949, which was dedicated ‘to Margot Fonteyn friend to the collection and the collector’. Fonteyn appears in a wedding dress of circa 1877 and an afternoon dress of circa 1901, and Etches in a tea gown of circa 1900, and a dress and evening coat of 1913. Fonteyn’s brother Felix took the photographs for the book.
Self-taught, Mathilda Etches opened her dressmaking business in the 1930s, encompassing the worlds of fashion, stage and screen. During the shortages of the Second World War she became adept at reusing and remodelling garments, and it was this reputation that probably prompted her regular client Margot Fonteyn to commission the alteration of the jacket.
Langley Moore’s assertion that ‘apart from the neck it was unaltered’ is incorrect, as, in addition, the body and sleeves have been relined, and the sleeves slightly shortened. The photograph mentioned on the index card was probably that taken by the fashionable portraitist Paul Tanqueray in 1943, now in the National Portrait Gallery, and to be seen on its website. It is clear from this photograph that the gathered sleeve heads were altered subsequently, possibly in the early 1950s, to produce the smoother shoulder line of the present garment.
i read a lot about art as well as women’s places in sub-movements and what not so i wanted to compile a little list of notable books i’ve read about the intersection of those things, in case it interests you at all cause it does me. some of these take on an explicitly feminist perspective while others are more objective and “historical”/ devoid of political introspection- both narratives interest me. (if this seems at all crude or without nuance it’s because i’m just a book store clerk and not an academic, lol) :
Danger! Women Artists at Workby Debra N. Mancoff - fun and full of color photos, nice for a coffee table reader or for a broad look at the canon of female work, doesn’t going into the specific histories. Mancoff is an accomplished author of art though- a body of work worth looking through.
Women of the Left Bank and Paris Was a Woman are a little less focused on a visual art historical perspective but are both some of my favorites because i adore portraits of the paris scene in the early 20th century- the women in these groups were incredible, the second takes on a bit of a lesbian/ non het women angle which is great
(i told you there were a lot of books about surrealist women) Surrealism and Women- i like the format of this one, 16 collected essays, i’m including it because it contains Rudolf Kuenzli (author of Marcel Duchamp: Artist of the Century, a book i love) essay “surrealism and misogyny” which is an interesting as it is truly wild. ahaha
An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West - about as comprehensive and informative as you can get, literally a compiled dictionary of over a thousand female artists from around the 1840s to 1980- amazing and a must have. so much research involved with this project. such an essential resource.
Art and Feminism by Helena Reckitt - valuable resource which spans around four decades of the works and artists informed by feminist theory and perspective.
Women Artists: An Illustrated History by Nancy G. Heller - like some others i have listed, this one is sweeping and more of an encyclopedia/ coffee table of female artists, would be ideal as an entry point
Japanese Women Artists, 1600-1900 by Patricia Fister - i don’t know a lot about the history of female art narratives in japan, so this one might be a broad- but i really enjoyed it as an introduction into these histories
i’m surely forgetting some- but i hope this was at least a little of interest!
In the 1890s Blacks were tortured in German concentration camps in Southwest Africa (now called Namibia) when Adolph Hitler was only a child. Colonial German doctors conducted unspeakable medical experiments on these emaciated helpless Africans decades before such atrocities were ever visited upon the Jews. Thousands of Africans were massacred. Regrettably, historians neglected to properly register the slaughter—that is, to lift it from the footnote in history that it had been relegated to—until now.
In an attempt to give the incidents their rightful recognition in the historical context of the Holocaust, Dr. Firpo W. Carr has authored a new book entitled, Germany’s Black Holocaust: 1890–1945. In it, he reveals the startling hidden history of Black victims of the Holocaust. The mayhem and carnage date back to the turn of the 20th century, many years before there were ever any other unfortunate victims—Jew or Gentile—of the Holocaust. Carr conducted three incredibly revealing interviews with: (1) a Black female Holocaust victim; (2) the Black commanding officer who liberated 8,000 Black men from a concentration camp; and (3) an African American medic from the all-Black medical unit that was responsible for retrieving thousands of dead bodies from Dachau. (White medical units were spared the gruesome task.)
“Kay,” the Black female Holocaust survivor, laments: “You cannot possibly comprehend the anger I have in me because of being experimented on in Dachau, and being called ‘nigger girl’ and ‘blacky’ while growing up.” Testimonials from the Black commanding officer and African American medic are memorialized, for the first time ever, in Carr’s book.
The research is based on voluminous documentation, and more. If you are like most people, you simply have never heard the unbelievable story of Black victims of the Holocaust. You are invited to read about the human spirit’s triumph over events that occurred during this horrible piece of hidden history.