Well, it was a hard hill for Tissot’s Princesse de Broglie to climb, pitting her against Ingres’ Princesse de Broglie in last weeks Princess-Off. Ingres’ painting is so well know, and so beloved, that any frock would have to struggle against it. Still, it was an interesting battle, and I think Ingres’s princess did more poorly than she might have on her own, as Tissot’s avant-garde princess highlighted how safe and cliché her earlier counterpart’s frock was. Still, Ingres’s 1850s Josephiné was the clear winner, with 7.6 points out of 10, while Tissot’s 1890s Pauline could only manage 6.6 out of 10.
I’ve been wanting to showcase this painting as a ‘Rate the Dress’ for ages. ‘Pretty, Pretty, Princess’ fortnight seemed the perfect opportunity, and then, with uncanny timing, Willow on facebook asked if the Electress Sophia of Hanover counts as a princess.
Does she ever! Sophia was the daughter of the Winter King & Queen of Bohemia (and he was also the Elector Palatine), the granddaughter of the King of England, the wife of the Prince-Elect of Hanover, and finally, the heir to the throne of England. She was first Sophie, Princess Palatine of the Rhine and then Duchess Sophia of Brunswick-Lüneburg, before becoming Sophia of the Palatinate, Electress of Hanover. She missed out on being Queen Sophia I of England by less than two months. So princess in every possible way!
She was also awesome. She was learned, witty, openminded, interested in the whole world, a loving wife, a good mother (mostly). As a young woman she showed unexpected spirit and a remarkable amount of wisdom when she told her first cousin Charles II of England to stuff off, because he was courting her for her money and to strengthen his position as heir to the English throne (should it be restored), not because they would suit (probably not in those words, but that’s how I like to imagine it). As an old woman, she was still so handsome and lively that I suspect the ill middle-aged Queen Anne of England stubbornly hung on to life to make sure she outlived Sophia, and didn’t have the final ignomy of out-done by her octogenarian successor. Sophia finally died at 83 after collapsing after a run (no, I’m not making that up), Anne heard of her death and passed away, age 49, within a fortnight.
Anyway, that’s all beside the point, because today we’re looking at Sophia for her style:
Sophia, aged between 10 and 20, is probably wearing allegorical or fancy dress in this portrait. Fancy dress or not, the garment shows the mark of its time, in the transition between the higher-waisted 1630s styles, and the longer torso of the 1660s, and the full, dropped sleeves. Sophia’s status (or claim to it, as this portrait was probably done between the death of her father and her brother’s restoration as the Elector of the Palatinate) and wealth is obvious in the pearl trim edging her sleeves and waist, the pearls twined through her headdress, the massive pearl and ruby drops at forehead, breast and waist, the further pearls round her neck and jewels round her bodice, and the fineness of her shift.
What do you think? Is it wacky or fabulous? Too much for a young girl, or is that just the right time to be playing dress-ups?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10