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Parasol

ca. 1830-1840 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The parasol was a popular accessory during the 19th and early 20th century, a period when sun tanned skin was highly undesirable. It functioned both as a sunshade and a fashionable accompaniment to dress, distinguishing itself from the umbrella through its infinite and luxurious forms and essentially feminine status. Like the earlier trend for fans parasols displayed an individual's style and could be used in a coquettish ritual to hide the modest bearer from unwanted glances.

In the 1830s the folding parasol was introduced, with a hinged central stick allowing it to be collapsed when not in use. A compact parasol had become essential as they were often on display during cramped carriage rides. This dome-shaped example is hinged just above the carved ivory handle and is held in place by a sliding brass tube. Much of the ivory carving, widely used for parasols, was imported from China, its quality and quantity went into decline during the 1840s due to mass production and the Opium wars. Restrained shades of green and brown silks were popular in this period, and this silk damask is typical of its time, woven in an irregular lattice pattern with a border of interlacing ellipses containing flowers and foliage. An ivory ring holds the cover closed when not in use.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
silk on metal and baleen frame with carved ivory handle
Brief description
Parasol of brown figured silk, whalebone ribs, metal stretchers and tube, and carved ivory handle; English, 1830s
Physical description
Brown figured silk parasol with ivory ring to hold the canopy closed, carved ivory handle and ferrule on metal stick handle and ivory tip.
Dimensions
  • Length: 930mm
  • Closed width: 11cm
Credit line
Given by Miss M. Davis
Historical context
The parasol was a popular accessory during the 19th and early 20th century, a period when the sun tan was not seen as desirable. It functioned both as a sunshade and a fashionable accompaniment to dress, distinguishing itself from the umbrella through its infinite and luxurious forms and essentially feminine status. Like the earlier trend for fans parasols displayed and individual's style and could be used in a coquettish ritual to hide the modest bearer from unwanted glances.
Summary
The parasol was a popular accessory during the 19th and early 20th century, a period when sun tanned skin was highly undesirable. It functioned both as a sunshade and a fashionable accompaniment to dress, distinguishing itself from the umbrella through its infinite and luxurious forms and essentially feminine status. Like the earlier trend for fans parasols displayed an individual's style and could be used in a coquettish ritual to hide the modest bearer from unwanted glances.



In the 1830s the folding parasol was introduced, with a hinged central stick allowing it to be collapsed when not in use. A compact parasol had become essential as they were often on display during cramped carriage rides. This dome-shaped example is hinged just above the carved ivory handle and is held in place by a sliding brass tube. Much of the ivory carving, widely used for parasols, was imported from China, its quality and quantity went into decline during the 1840s due to mass production and the Opium wars. Restrained shades of green and brown silks were popular in this period, and this silk damask is typical of its time, woven in an irregular lattice pattern with a border of interlacing ellipses containing flowers and foliage. An ivory ring holds the cover closed when not in use.
Collection
Accession number
T.159-1915

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Record createdOctober 2, 2007
Record URL
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