Thursday, May 27, 2010

Susan Osgood Jones, 1844 Wedding dress

Collection of Strawbery Banke Museum (
Photograph Courtesy of Ellen McDermott Photography
Gift of Margaret White Redding

This striking wedding dress embodies the qualities brides past and present seek in their gowns: elegant, original, flattering and often, dripping with controlled luxury. Photographed in several different settings under different conditions, the gown constantly emerged as an almost ethereal presence, as though waiting for its wearer to once again make it shimmer delicately as she laughs, smiles, primps and holds court. It appears as either contemporary or period fashion, depending upon backdrop and lighting. Constructed of off-white silk moiré, with a well-fitted and tightly boned bodice, the fabric was imported from England or France, although the maker is not currently known. Of particular note is the detailed and complex pleating of the bodice, sleeves and skirt.

No doubt all eyes focused on Susan Osgood Jones, elegant in her floor length dress designed for her June 22, 1844 Portsmouth wedding. She was marrying a Portsmouth man, Mark H. Wentworth and when she became Mrs. Mark Hunking Wentworth, two strong families were united. The news of the marriage would have spread throughout Portsmouth, with town folk speculating on any number of details of the event and the future of the young couple.

Kimberly Alexander, Ph.D.
Chief Curator
Strawbery Banke Museum

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