Rainy Day | 1906 | Frank Weston Benson
I can't think of a better rainy day activity than curling up in front of a fireplace and reading a good book. And its been raining A LOT in Chicago lately - I guess it is April, a month known for its showers. I'm so glad its almost May so we can enjoy those beautiful flowers.
So what might Elisabeth be reading? Well Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J. M. Barrie was published in 1906, the same year this painting was completed. So perhaps Elisabeth was really culturally refined and reading the latest and greatest novels of the time.
I also want to talk about what Elisabeth might be wearing and the popular fashions of the early 1900s. I found this beautiful dress at the Met Museum. This dress likely would have been worn to an afternoon gathering and it seems Elisabeth was more likely to stay in - thus she would have worn a more casual version of this early 1900s dress. In comparison to the previous century, the Belle Epoch (the beautiful era) was more simple and practical. It still had fussy details such as the lace trim on the sleeves and down the bodice, but the unnatural lines were being abandoned in favor of a more natural silhouette.
A fashionable woman of this time period would have made a twice annual pilgrimage to Paris to choose their wardrobe for the upcoming season. Many of these women would have a vendeuse, or a saleswoman in the fashion industry, that would assist in your selection of your wardrobe. Some of the noteworthy designers of this time included Poiret, Worth, Callot Soeurs, Jeanne Paquin, and Madeleine Chéruit.