Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Spotting" Handkerchiefs in Art

This is a continuation of yesterday's post on handkerchiefs. I've done some searching online and have found several images of spotted handkerchief in period art work. I should note that this search was for examples of handkerchiefs worn by women, and not men.

One of the earliest images I came across, and one of my favorites, is A City Shower, 1764. The original is in the Museum of London but you can find copies of it in online art stores. This is a very pretty example of a handkerchief with a "Red Ground and spotted with White". It looks as though this handkerchief is a large square worn folded in half. Lots going on in this image - pretty handkerchief, bib apron, quilted petticoat, and pattens! I really want a pair.

A City Shower, 1764, Museum of London
If you look closely at The Old Ballad Singer, 1775, the women on the right seems to be wearing a handkerchief with a dark colored ground and some kind of white pattern. It's hard to tell. I couldn't find a better close up of this image.

In the portrait of Martha Saunders, also dated 1775, we find a handkerchief with a dark ground and simple white spots.

Martha Saunders, 1775
We find the opposite in The Tenant's Daughter, 1796. A handkerchief with a white ground and dark spots. We can only guess at their color.

Haines and Son, London. 1798
Here is a close up of Spring, 1779, by John Collet. It's a lovely example of a blue handkerchief spotted with white. I like how the handkerchief matches the gentleman's coat. :)

Spring, by John Collet
I don't have an exact date for this next image, but I believe it's from the 1770s or early 1780s. Unfortunately I don't know the artist either. I found the image on Sotheby's several years ago but did think to save any additional information. (If anyone has information on this painting, please let me know.) Anyway, it's another nice example of a red (brownish red) handkerchief with white spots. LOVE that green bonnet and matching green mitts! She looks a little overdressed for harvesting hops. Reminds me of George Stubbs' painting of the Hay Makers.

For additional information on spotted handkerchief please see Paul Dickfoss' article, Spotted Handkerchiefs!


  1. Yes! Love all these non-white handkerchiefs, thanks so much for posting them! It seems like the lower on the economic scale people were, the more varied the handkerchiefs depicted, maybe it was the easiest and least expensive way of dressing up otherwise basic clothing that you were stuck with because you couldn't afford a new gown every six months.

  2. Thanks ladies! Yes, I do like the variety of handkerchiefs out there. The more I look the more I find! It's amazing how changing little things like the color of your handkerchief or ribbon on your cap can give your wardrobe a whole new look.

  3. You might find this article interesting. It was published quite a while ago now.

  4. Thank you Paul! I've linked to the article at the end of this post.


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