Dress from Uppark painting is brought to life

House manger at Uppark, Sarah Foster with the dress made by the Fine Arts Society a copy of the dress worn in a 1750s portrait hanging in the house.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130645-2
House manger at Uppark, Sarah Foster with the dress made by the Fine Arts Society a copy of the dress worn in a 1750s portrait hanging in the house.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130645-2
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A LIFE-SIZE replica of a magnificent 18th-century dress, inspired by a portrait at Uppark House, has been unveiled for the first time.

And Friday (May 10), was the only opportunity to see the dress and portrait together.

Volunteers from the Solent Decorative and Fine Arts Society produced the dress – a stunning creation of peach and turquoise silk taffeta and lace with ornate, hand-embroidered inner pockets, a hand-stitched corset and several petticoats.

The idea to recreate the dress came from Uppark’s House manager, Sarah Foster.

“It seemed an opportunity not to be missed; the chance to recreate such an amazing dress, and to bring this painting to life,” she said.

Since then, six volunteers have been cutting, pinning and sewing to create an authentic, life-size copy of the dress depicted in a painting by Arthur Devis in 1763.

The volunteers undertook extensive research into the patterns and fabrics of that time, including periods of research at the V&A, the Museum of Costume in Bath, and Chawton Library. The fabric was sourced from specialist shops and antique lace was donated for the project.

The group planned to create two mannequins for display: one showing the dress and the other showing the underskirt.

The painting is in the private ownership of the Meade-Fetherstonhaugh family, who gave Uppark House to the National Trust in 1954. Members of the family still reside at the property. The lady in the painting is Lucy Watson a friend of the family at that time.