Saturday, May 31, 2014

Painting of the Day: The Charles Conder Train, 1903

Design for the Train of a Woman's Gown
Charles Conder
Watercolor, 1903
The Victoria & Albert Museum 

Charles Conder, made a name for himself in the early Twentieth Century for the elaborate decorations that he would paint on the long trains of evening gowns and ball gowns.  He would use watercolors to adorn the trains—sometimes even while the gown was being worn.

Conder created this watercolor design for a train around 1903.  We can’t be certain about the dress for which this design was created.  We do know that it was finished for one Mrs. Florence Humphrey, an enthusiastic guest of many a fancy dress ball.  At this time, Conder was at the height of his popularity and his work was very much in demand. 

The fashion of this era had moved away from the stiffly corseted dresses of the Nineteenth Century in favor of “The New Reform Dress” which was a “princess style” which hung from the shoulders without a waistline.  Long full sleeves and dramatic trains defined this new style—giving condor many a canvas for his much-desired work. 

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