Making April Love’s clothes:
Arthur Hughes (1832-1915) (who was a second-generation member of the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood) exhibited his painting April Love (below) at the Royal Academy in 1856. The painting was inspired by another of Tennyson’s poems, The Miller’s Daughter, and was accompanied by the text:
As we were staging a fictitious event where Tennyson would read his poem, The Lady of Shalott, to an after dinner audience 1856, we could not resist the temptation to include Tryphena Foord (the young model from the painting and Arthur Hughes’ future wife) wearing the dress she posed in – and wondered how many people would notice!
April Love, Tate Gallery, London
By chance I happened to have in stock a blue and purple shot silk taffeta that was a very good match for the painting. A Study of the dress in the painting suggested that the style was contemporary with the painting. The bodice had a round neckline and was fitted to the waist. It had short puffed sleeves in white organdie trimmed with lace and purple silk ribbon. I created a hook and eye fastening for the back. It was worn over a chemise and corset with drawers and petticoat.
We also found a gold heart shaped locket (on eBay) and put it on a narrow purple ribbon to match the painting. However, the shawl was much more of a problem and we did not find a good match in time for the film shoot. I have however found one since and we plan to stage a photograph of the painting next April.
The young model we found to play the part was Natasha Rigby, the sister of Victoria Rigby who played the Lady of Shalott. Natasha was a natural and did some lovely posing for us in the grounds of our film location when we were taking a break from the set. It was very cold though. Hopefully Natasha will not have outgrown the dress before we have a chance to do a proper photo shoot in a few months.