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Samuel Lovett Waldo (1783-1861)
and William Jewett (1792-1874)
Mrs. Abby Rossiter, ca. 1823
Oil on wood panel
Gift of Mrs. Francis F. Murphy - 1966.58

The columnar shape of early nineteenth-century costume for women slowly widens in the early 1820s. The waistline drops slightly on a belted bodice as seen on this dress worn by Mrs. Abby Rossiter. Necklines are square and cut horizontally across the shoulder line. The dark silk satin is set off by the pleated fabric in an upside-down triangle which emphasizes the horizontal line of the neck. Soft gathered puffs top a narrow sleeve. The chemisette of dotted and sprigged cotton is topped by a falling collar. The Puritan ethic was so deeply ingrained in American women that they tended to be more conservative than their European counterparts in color choice and frequently chose black for their very best gowns. Mrs. Rossiter's accessories include a handsome tortoise shell comb worn in her hair. Her face is set off by the white of the chemisette.