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Scottish tartans and Russian Romanticism

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Scottish fabrics in Russian urban dress reflected a new artistic movement in Russia and around the world. Two portraits of Alexander Pushkin, both painted in 1827, provide an accurate representation of how ideas of Romanticism were embodied in fashion. In the portrait by Vasily Tropinin (1776–1857), the poet is depicted in a soft tie à la Byron, named in honour of the English Romantic poet, and in a capacious dressing gown. In Orest Kiprensky’s portrait, Pushkin appears in a capacious Almaviva cloak made of two-sided Scottish fabric, worn over a frock coat. The poet is depicted without a tailcoat. According to his friend Pavel Nashchokin, Pushkin did not have a tailcoat at this time and was trying to acquire a used one, which he could wear when he accompanied his wife to Court events. As is well known, Emperor Nicholas I advised the poet to write historical novellas in the spirit of Sir Walter Scott. Properly identifying discrete details of these costumes enables us to trace Pushkin’s predilections, as well as his attention to society’s literary interests at the time.
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Keywords: Alexander Pushkin; Almaviva cloak; Jerusalem pavement pattern; Orest Kiprensky; Vasily Tropinin; Vissarion Belinsky; Volcano net pattern; plaid; portrait; scarf

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: State Institute for Arts Studies Translated by Amanda Murphy, Colby College

Publication date: December 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • We all wear clothes. We are all therefore invested at some level in the production and consumption of clothing. This journal intends to embrace issues and themes that are both universal and personal, addressing [and dressing] us all. Increasingly, as we all become accomplished semioticians, clothing becomes the key signifier in determining social interaction and behaviour, and sartorial norms dictate socio-cultural appropriateness. Following the rise of fashion theory, on an everyday level, we all understand that our clothes 'say' something about us, about our times, nation, system of values. Yet clothing is not fashion; clothing is a term derivative from 'cloth', to cover the body, whereas fashion alludes to the glamorous, the ephemeral and the avant garde. We wear clothes, but imagine fashion-an unattainable ideal.
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