II-60083.1 | Miss Bethune, "Gypsy" costume, Montreal, QC, 1881

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Miss Bethune, "Gypsy" costume, Montreal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
14 x 10 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  female (19035) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Miss Bethune, who was costumed as "An Incroyable" for the skating carnival of 1881, appears here dressed for a ball held two weeks earlier. No record survives of her character's name, but manuals and fashion plates suggested similar costumes for the character of "Tambourine Girl." One recommended a low black bodice with a square neckline, a striped skirt in red, black and yellow, and a tambourine hung at the side. Note the many miniature tambourines pinned to the costume.

Upon careful examination of the two photographs of Miss Bethune, the same scarf can be noted draped over her hips and knotted at the side. While the colouring of the photographs is slightly different, the same wide stripe can be noted at the bottom just before the fringe begins, with two rows of knots at the top creating a lattice effect. It is typical to see people wear at least some of the same clothing on several fancy dress occasions. A good costume could be expensive, and even those who did have means recycled elements from one costume to another.

Ardern Holt, Fancy Dresses Described, or What to wear at Fancy Balls, 6th ed. (London: Debenham and Freebody, 1896), p. 255.

  • What

    Miss Bethune made use of a striped scarf in both her fancy dress costumes as "An Incroyable" and "Tambourine Girl."

  • Where

    This image was taken in the Notman studio, in front of a backdrop chosen by many other guests at Mrs. Macdougall's ball.

  • When

    Miss Bethune's portrait was taken at the same time as those of the other guests at Mrs. D. Lorn Macdougall's fancy dress ball, held February 24, 1881.

  • Who

    Miss Bethune hailed from a Montreal family of which several members operated a law firm.