Pinterest Alert: Have You Pinned These? Double Check Your Sources!

September 2, 2014

There’s a Tear in the Fabric of Time!

This is an FYI for all my fellow Renaissance researchers, costumers, and most importantly, Pinterest pinners!


“EUROPE’S BRIDE Margaretha von Valois” from The Lost Gallery on Flickr

There is a series of portraits making the Pinterest rounds labelled “Marguerite de Valois” or “Margaretha von Valois, 1572” that, though they may bear a resemblance to other portraits of Margaret of Valois, are actually modern Photoshop artworks by The Lost Gallery and others. They are NOT genuine 16th century portraits, but you may recognize bits and pieces of them taken from other real, period portraits that make them very convincing at first glance. For example, in many of the modern images, the pose and dress are from the iconic “Portrait of a Young Lady Aged 21, Possibly Helena von Snakenborg:”

The portrait above is a genuine portrait from the 16th century.


This is another clever Photoshop piece entitled “DEGAGEZ! Marguerite de Valois” from the Lost Gallery. You can see that the bodice was taken directly from the previous portrait.

A seasoned Photoshop artist or research veteran who’s stared at hundred if not thousands of period portraits will notice telltale flaws after a moment of looking. Yet, for the general layperson or even an avid history lover, some of these “paintings” are well done enough to sneak their way onto historical portrait Pinterest boards and Facebook posts. These are just two variations of the portrait; there are many others!
They are actually quite creative, but they are not good for use as historical sources. Indeed, they are quite fun as an exercise in historical plausibility. They are clearly convincing enough even with some obvious incongruities, and prove that, if you are not looking for a strict reenactment outfit and directly copying a particular portrait isn’t your cup of tea, you could take the sleeves off of one dress, the hat off another, and put it all together with still another bodice and produce a very rich, pleasing outfit (kind of like Steampunk taking bits of different Victorian styles and mashing it up with modern or all the Elizabethan-fantasy mash-ups worn to renaissance faires. Tudorgoth/Ruffpunk, anyone?).
Still, always double-check your sources for things you find on the internet, especially Facebook and Pinterest where false information can spread more quickly than the truth!

These modern Photoshop portraits aren’t the only pin masquerading as authentic.

Another mis-pin is this stunning art piece by Rozanne Hawksley, which is often mislabeled and subsequently re-pinned as one of Queen Elizabeth I’s gloves:

Et ne non inducas (And lead us not) by Rozanne Hawksley, created 1987 – 1989

In reality, it’s a beautiful piece of modern art made to imitate gloves of the Elizabethan era with a touch of dark imagery in the form of memento mori symbolism. The artist certainly succeeded in creating the look and feel of a true antique masterpiece!
Artwork seems to be a common source of misidentification, usually because people re-pin pictures without checking the source or giving an artist credit. Another art piece that often appears on Renaissance-era boards is this modern chopine by Susan Taber Avila:

“Pink Chopine” by Susan Taber Avila, circa 2006

To a researcher’s eye, it’s obviously a modern re-imagining of a 16th century Venetian chopine, but since most of the pins of this image do not link back to the artist’s website or even the original image url, the source is completely missing from most pins. Somewhere along the way, this art piece was tagged 1600s 1700s chopine (likely noting the style influence of the piece). After that, people searched for 1600s chopine, this image popped up, and it was repinned without a second thought. Pinterest’s page is a screen full of many small photos surrounded by many other similar photos, making it very easy to simply re-pin something and move on without expanding the file or double-checking the source. In addition, the Pinterest search function only scans keywords in the description and tags, not the source material for the image, so even if you are interested in this artwork as a fiber arts piece, you will have a tough time finding the artist! Clicking on an image never guarantees that you will be taken to the primary source of the image. Pictures can be pinned from anywhere on the web and often have been filtered through two or three websites prior to being added to Pinterest’s archives. It can be a wild goose chase to track the original information down!

Movie costumes are another source of confusion, including this spectacular Rengecy dress that has been making the rounds as the real deal, but is actually a costume from the film “Immortal Beloved,” a period drama with many beautiful costumes:

“Immortal Beloved” costume design by Maurizio Millenotti, circa 1994

Immortal-Beloved-25466_3The dress being worn by Valeria Golino as Giulietta Guicciardi during the film.

Fashion works in cycles: what’s old eventually becomes new again! In the case of this dress by George Halley, the opposite happened. I don’t know who first found this pinned as a Regency dress, but it took off. Though it has a high waist and square neck like a classic Regency gown, is actually from 1967!

George Halley Evening dress (nylon, silk, glass, metallic thread, plastic), circa 1967

There are lots of 1960s dresses that are great a mimicking a Regency silhouette (there are also 1960s gowns that look like they are from 1906 and even some gowns from 1906 that look like they came from 1806, so always check the source and your garments carefully). Once again, spreading misinformation is bad, but there is some good to be had out of it. If you happen to have a 1960s dress that happens to look like a Regency dress, voila! Instant costume!



8 Responses to “Pinterest Alert: Have You Pinned These? Double Check Your Sources!”

  1. I am loving your pun about the tear in the fabric of time, and also feeling super proud of myself for thinking ‘surely that’s not genuine’ as I scrolled past the fake portrait :) love your blog!

  2. KathyG Says:

    If you really want to witness a tear in the fabric of fashion time, watch Reign on CW. The fans of this show frequently post current runway ballgowns and formals as the type of gown that would fit this or that character’s style. Attempting to explain that there was pretty much one silhouette among the peers of Mary Queen of Scots (no boho, regency, etc)… well, let’s just say anything approaching actual historic representation is not a concern.

    • Liz Says:

      Such shows are not my cup of tea, but I have no problem with fantasy. While having history presented properly (costumes included) is nice, it does limit creativity somewhat, especially by modern standards and tastes. Not every show, even if set in “the past,” has an obligation to be perfectly historical unless that’s its mission. People like to update characters to identify with them and clothes are a big part of that. “Look at this character. What would they do/eat/wear if they were in our time? What sort of things remind you of them and why?” I can applaud that. It displays a bit of critical thinking, a characteristic that always deserves to be exercised! Perhaps some fans will be inspired to look up the true history and gain a spark of fire to learn more. However, if folks are posting runway outfits and labeling them as authentic outfits/accessories of the period, then that’s a different matter (for example, labeling an Alexander McQueen jacket as genuine Victorian antique). Those are the sorts of tears that need to be carefully mended!

  3. Nancy N Says:

    I’m no photoshop expert, but that first pic had me wondering about what I can only describe as “right boob squishage”?? Not to mention the hot mess of necklaces that seem to meander all over the place and are somehow unanswerable to the laws of gravity? And later, who would wear a massive pearl earring that got pushed out by her tiny neck ruff?
    Thanks for this!!
    Nancy N

  4. Bear Kirkpatrick Says:

    hello liz,

    i always enjoy your posts.

    wondering if you might be able to tell me the name of this collar (if there is one):

    i’ve seen it in portraits of women, but not in men. but i like it, wonder if i might find any contemporary shirt makers who use such a collar.

    all best,


    Bear Kirkpatrick

    • Liz Says:

      Unfortunately you image did not come through. You can include a url link to an image of one, but you can’t upload a picture to wordpress comments as far as I know. If you can’t find an image, perhaps you could describe it (century or shape)?

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