And so to bed – 18th Century night attire

As well as being essential items of clothing to help people stay warm on those cold winter nights and to cover their modesty, people clothed only in their night apparel provided the caricaturists of the day with a plentiful supply of material, so we thought we would take a quick, lighthearted look at a few of these to cheer up a cold winter’s day.

carrington-bowles-bl-he-ho-heavy-dull-and-insipid-by-all-thats-good-1770-1772
Satire: a man wearing a dressing-gown and white night-cap seated reading a book of ‘Sleepy Sermons’ beside a table, twisting to right and yawning with one hand raised in the air, c.1771. © The Trustees of the British Museum

A lean old woman in night-cap and shift sits in an arm-chair pouncing on an insect on her upraised knee.

An old maid in search of a flea, 1794. © The Trustees of the British Museum
An old maid in search of a flea, 1794. © The Trustees of the British Museum

People wearing just their nightwear was yet another way of mocking the ‘great and the good’ of the Georgian Era, so here we go with just a small sample of the amusing caricatures of the day.

Here we have the Duke of York and his mistress Mrs Clarke, neither bearing any resemblance to the actual people however, as you can see from the painting of Mary Anne below.

coming-york-over-her-in-the-sanctum-sanctorum-bm
Heading to a printed broadside. The Duke of York, in his night-shirt, bows very low to Mrs. Clarke, in bed (left). He raises a night-cap set in a coronet, saying, Oh! my Angel let me clasp thee in my fond Arms!!! 1808 – 1810. © The Trustees of the British Museum
mary_anne_clarke_nee_thompson
Mary Anne Clarke, by Adam Buck (1759-1833)

Next we have a satire on Napoleon in 1815, as he sits at a table wearing a night-cap writing his will, with English soldiers on guard, not a very flattering image!

napoleon-1815

Here we have a print by Rowlandson depicting both George III and the future George IV, always a character ripe for mockery.

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Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

This one was produced around the time of the marriage of the future George IV to Caroline of Brunswick; Prinny in his very short night shirt and nightcap looking decidedly worried and Princess Caroline smiling! This was not going to end well, as history teaches us!

george-iv-and-queen-caroline-1795

And finally, we move from the nobility to political mockery with a terrified Charles James Fox and his wife in bed, Napoleon standing over them and William Pitt to the left.

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‘Comfort’s of a Bed of Roses’ Gillray 1806. © The Trustees of the British Museum

 

Featured Image

A Dream of Retrospection and ambition, The Duchess of St Albans. © The Trustees of the British Museum

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3 thoughts on “And so to bed – 18th Century night attire

    1. All Things Georgian

      It’s great isn’t it – something to brighten up a dull day, we thought after our recent posts it was time for something a bit brighter and a bit of fun 🙂

      Like

  1. From experience, when I stayed with my grandmother in an unmodernised Georgian house on the north Kent coast. In winter, when temperature dropped and the gales blew, you wore your dressing gown in bed under as many blankets as you could get. Lovely pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

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