Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sarah Parker Rice Goodwin's Floral Print Dress, c. 1846-50

Sarah Parker Rice Goodwin (1805-1896)

Sarah’s floral print cotton dress (c. 1846-1850) was produced at the Portsmouth Steam Factory. The dates are consistent with the operation of the Steam Factory which was owned by her husband, New Hampshire’s Civil War Governor, Ichabod Goodwin. The dress was photographed on site at the Goodwin Mansion in Sarah’s own chamber; she would have worn this dress while in her early to mid 40s. Sarah had seven children; four died at a young age. In terms of contemporary sizing, the dress would have been an approximate size two or four. However, the wrists and forearms are so incredibly small in diameter, that only a teenager or very slim woman with slight bone structure would be able to wear the dress today. The dress stands at 51 1/2 inches.

While the use of a single patterned cotton (small rosy pink buds alternate with floral garlands creating a pink bands or “stripes”) may appear straightforward at first glance, the dress is a very complex and sophisticated affair, with layered frothy, near-diaphanous tiers, counterbalanced by a sharply drawn and pleated bodice. The petite crocheted buttons, 10 lining each sleeve and cuff, and the 13 hook and eye back closures reveal that it would have been impossible for her to dress unassisted. The stylishly cut neckline and complex sleeves all required perfect fabric matching to create the diagonals of the skirt, which contrast with the orderly, symmetrical bodice.

Photography, Ellen McDermott
Design layout, Brian Smestad, Blue Tree
Mannequin and styling, Astrida Schaeffer
Sketches, Sarah Beth Johnson, March 2011
Goodwin dress, Gift of Alice Decatur Armsden, #1997.166
Shoot assistants, Brielly McGlaughlin & Sam Hall

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, I have a passion for printed cottons, would love to know -someplace- reliable to research garment cotton prints in the 19th century.