The turquoise gown that Miss Hammond wears in her portrait was a fashionable colour in the last two decades of the eighteenth century...

John Smart was and is much admired as an artist for his singular painting technique, which, on a minute scale, recorded every texture and facial idiosyncrasy imaginable. He was also a master colourist, mixing the bright hues of the later Georgian era with complementary colours. The turquoise gown that Miss Hammond wears in her portrait was a fashionable colour in the last two decades of the eighteenth century, with a fashion report in the Evening Mail for 1799 recording both the colour and its use in a gown with Turkish influence:

CHEMISE A LA CIRCE

The waist is marked with three gathers, surmounted with an Algerine girdle. The front is in Turkish style, and the body is ornamented from top to bottom. It has a very coquettish appearance. The materials generally used for these dresses are Le Pekin’ des trois raisons, summer taffetas, Chinese corisandre, striped turquoise, white crape, muslin, embroidered, worked and plain. Linen, Florence, plain, painted....

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John Smart was and is much admired as an artist for his singular painting technique, which, on a minute scale, recorded every texture and facial idiosyncrasy imaginable. He was also a master colourist, mixing the bright hues of the later Georgian era with complementary colours. The turquoise gown that Miss Hammond wears in her portrait was a fashionable colour in the last two decades of the eighteenth century, with a fashion report in the Evening Mail for 1799 recording both the colour and its use in a gown with Turkish influence:

CHEMISE A LA CIRCE

The waist is marked with three gathers, surmounted with an Algerine girdle. The front is in Turkish style, and the body is ornamented from top to bottom. It has a very coquettish appearance. The materials generally used for these dresses are Le Pekin’ des trois raisons, summer taffetas, Chinese corisandre, striped turquoise, white crape, muslin, embroidered, worked and plain. Linen, Florence, plain, painted. &c.

Evening Mail, 26-28 June 1799’

In this portrait by Smart, Miss Hammond also wears a black cord silk at her neck, very much like the type worn by women in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries where a miniature was fastened to the end and hidden in the décolletage of the sitter. In Miss Hammond’s case, this may have hidden a miniature of her future husband. Although the sitter is currently untraced, her youth suggests that she was newly married, Smart’s portrait a record of her at this time.

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500 Years of British Art