Fashion Designs for Women in Historical Styles
Original Watercolors by H. & C. Condon: c. 1930s

The Years 1100 to 1399

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Detail Detail

Above: Details

Detail
Hamilton and Clarissa (H. & C.) Condon (attributed to)
Fashion Designs for Women in Historical Styles
American: c. 1930s
Watercolor and gouache on paper
18 x 15 inches
$550 each

A pageant of Western women’s dress from the medieval era to the 1920s is illustrated in this series of beautiful and chic original fashion studies. The vast catalogue of images is organized through a series of feminine types, each titled on the work in French: La Femme Fatale, La Mondaine [The Socialite], La Sportive [The Sportswoman], La Debutante [The Young Actress], La Femme de Lettres [The Woman of Letters], L’Excentrique [The Eccentric], La Provinciale [The Provincial Woman], La Vielle Dame [The Elderly Lady], La Douairiere [The Dowager] and La Jeune Veuve [The Young Widow].

This cast of characters in the drama of fashion promenades across the artist’s imaginary stage in a lavish sartorial display, clothed in empire gowns, hoop skirts, bustles, hobble skirts and flapper dresses. For example, La Sportive of the year 1388 is almost literally queen for the day in her regal blue cape emblazoned with unicorn coats of arms. In contrast, the Femme de Lettres and the Debutante of 1913 are shown freed from their corsets in the prevailing long and soigne silhouettes of the time.

Hamilton Condon had a varied theatrical career as an actor, dancer, puppeteer and scenery designer from at least 1920. He was a puppeteer and performer with the Greenwich Village Follies, a series of musical revues at Broadway theaters during the 1920s. According to information received from a grandson of American film director F. Herrick Herrick (1895-1987), Hamilton and Clarissa Condon (nee Radcliffe) were living in Nassau, the Bahamas, in the 1930s and proposed that Herrick write a screenplay about their lives. Though the movie was never made, Herrick took slides of them at work which still survive. In these undated photos, the Condons appear to be in their fifties or sixties. Works given to Herrick by the Condons are in the same style and format as the offered examples. In addition, a pair of similar fashion studies signed by the Condons were in the Collection of H.R.H. the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, sold Sothebys, New York, 1998.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear.

References:

"Portrait Puppets: A Dramatic Innovation." Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. 2003. http://www.bimp.uconn.edu/library_publications_buxton_howto_portraitpuppets.htm (11 January 2010).

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