Monday, March 18, 2013

Mourning








These two dresses were worn by the rather rotund Queen Victoria ca. 1894, via The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Queen Victoria is often cited as having set the example for mourning after her beloved husband, Prince Albert, died unexpectedly in 1861.  Because who wouldn’t seriosuly fucking mourn losing this?  She spent three years in the seclusion of deep mourning, and had her entire court put into mourning, as well.  These dresses are from the forty plus years she spend afterwards, in second mourning.  While she is cited with the model of victorian mourning, she was hardly the precendent.
At the time of Prince Albert’s death, The United States was embroiled in the Civil War.  With everyone losing a husband or son or father or brother, wearing mourning was banned in parts of the Confediracy because of the serious morale and resource drain all the young women dressed in black and isolating themselves presented.  Even where it wasn’t banned, young widows abandoned mourning out of practicality and sometimes (if Gone With The Wind is going to be held as historically accurate) out of simple necessity.  Elaborate and drawn-out mourning in the US never fully caught on again after the end of the Civil War, despite Queen Victoria’s example.


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