A Woman Of Experience

I think she was my first.  Her dark brows, her heavy eyelids, her tired and shadowed expression, the mouth about to purse into petulance – the elements of a spoiled Edwardian countenance – charmed me into purchasing her.  I collect many images of lovely ladies, but this gilded siren was my first.

She wears a dressing/morning gown, en dishabille:  low cut, but reflecting the hard outlines of the corset underneath. Her hair is hastily pinned up, threatening to break loose like dusky tendrils of sea spray.  The gown itself is a seamstress' nightmare – pieced together and decorated in some dim factory room so that it could now blaze in a light of ribbons, linen, velvet, muslin, lace, brilliants, folds, ruffles, pleats and ruches.  The embroidered panel at the hem glitters with flowers and medievel quatrefoils.  Braided fringe sweps the floors when she walks:  more dust for the skivvies to clean.  The apron of needlepoint lace is a pale garden of leaves and vines, sprouted from bobbin and thread

Strings of pearls are looped and knotted; dangling from her throat and shoulders.  The fruits of a mollusk's lonely labors are valuable indeed, yet they are deemed by this lady of experience to be worthy only of her boudoir.  Bows are pinned to her sleeves, like a 17th century courtier's – she is alternately bare and lavishily covered.

She's leaning forward.  Her right arm is passive, with silken fingers resting on a satin pillow.  Her left arm, however, is uncomforatble, bent:  what few muscles that a life of leisure hasn't atrophied are tense, prepared to push her out of her painted chair.  She hasn't moved yet, but is ready to – she is both lanquid and exasperated.

My theory?  She has just risen from bed, and wrapped herself in her rustling, complicated gown.  She is either about to welcome someone in, or make sure he closes the door behind him.

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14 responses to “A Woman Of Experience

  1. Beautiful, as always.

  2. That girl is definitely up to something.

  3. Alternately bare, lavishly covered. Perfect. I am guessing she is sending him home for there will be no breakfast for he at least prepared by she.

  4. I like also how the photo reveals an era in which lovely women had lovely bosoms, rather than strident ones.

  5. Beautiful!And, I agree with Redz. Lovely bosom, rather than Tridents….er, strident.

  6. Aubrey, you are so good at this. You could do a whole book of them. One to be read at leisure, of course, in one's own boudoir, with bonbons.

  7. Beautiful!I adore these old images and collect photos myself.

  8. I agree- you could do a glorious book, with altered art and and beautiful fonts to go on the coffee table. Gorgeous.

  9. It's funny, but looking at my collection of lovely ladies the thought of a collection of lovely sketches, describing each one, did cross my mind. It's so easy to get lost in each image.

  10. This really is very lovely, Aubrey. You write so eloquently.
    I think she is not what she is made to appear in this photo. She looks bored with being the subject, her pose is unnatural and her eyes seem almost a little dulled, as one is when one pretends to be some else entirely. I would love to know what she is thinking. The clear truth is that she is a thing of beauty, but I think she is really a lot more.

  11. One day she may exchange her finery for honest, simple garments, but for today, this is what she has.Yes, please, Aubrey, write the book!

  12. she is a striking woman and you wrote of her strikingly well.

  13. The last sentence–touche. She does look tired and exasperated. That gown must weigh 30 lbs or more. Walking around in it would tire a lady of leisure rather quickly.

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