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Lady Jane Mathew and Her Daughters, unknown artist, 1790. Courtesy the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

The Secrets of Getting Dressed as an 18th-Century Woman

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Lady Jane Mathew and Her Daughters, unknown artist, 1790. Courtesy the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Being an 18th-century woman was no cake walk. Just look at what it took to get dressed each morning. The National Museums Liverpool—with the help of the museum's costume curator, Pauline Rushton—created a video showing how a wealthy woman in the 1700s would have gotten dressed.

It’s no wonder that any woman who could afford it would have a maid to help her get dressed, as some of the garments couldn’t even be fastened without the help of another person. While we may be familiar with the concept of corsets and petticoats, there was a whole lot more going on underneath those voluminous dresses. For one thing, women wore detachable pockets tied around their waists, hidden under their skirts. (If only we still had those.) Then there were hip pads made of wool or cork designed to lift the skirts and make women’s waists look small.

Yet one aspect of modern layering was missing: underwear. According to the National Museums Liverpool, English women didn’t start wearing skivvies until the 19th century, as they were considered masculine.

The video is a full seven-and-a-half minutes long, which appears to be the bare minimum amount of time it would take a lady to get dressed if she and her maid were totally focused on the task at hand.

[h/t Boing Boing]

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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‘American Gothic’ Became Famous Because Many People Saw It as a Joke
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1930, Iowan artist Grant Wood painted a simple portrait of a farmer and his wife (really his dentist and sister) standing solemnly in front of an all-American farmhouse. American Gothic has since inspired endless parodies and is regarded as one of the country’s most iconic works of art. But when it first came out, few people would have guessed it would become the classic it is today. Vox explains the painting’s unexpected path to fame in the latest installment of the new video series Overrated.

According to host Phil Edwards, American Gothic made a muted splash when it first hit the art scene. The work was awarded a third-place bronze medal in a contest at the Chicago Art Institute. When Wood sold the painting to the museum later on, he received just $300 for it. But the piece’s momentum didn’t stop there. It turned out that American Gothic’s debut at a time when urban and rural ideals were clashing helped it become the defining image of the era. The painting had something for everyone: Metropolitans like Gertrude Stein saw it as a satire of simple farm life in Middle America. Actual farmers and their families, on the other hand, welcomed it as celebration of their lifestyle and work ethic at a time when the Great Depression made it hard to take pride in anything.

Wood didn’t do much to clear up the work’s true meaning. He stated, "There is satire in it, but only as there is satire in any realistic statement. These are types of people I have known all my life. I tried to characterize them truthfully—to make them more like themselves than they were in actual life."

Rather than suffering from its ambiguity, American Gothic has been immortalized by it. The country has changed a lot in the past century, but the painting’s dual roles as a straight masterpiece and a format for skewering American culture still endure today.

Get the full story from Vox below.

[h/t Vox]

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“Dissension” by Tobias Rothe. Original image courtesy Fondazione Federico Zeri/Università di Bologna // CC-BY 3.0
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Get Your GIFs Ready for This International Public Domain GIF-Making Competition
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“Dissension” by Tobias Rothe. Original image courtesy Fondazione Federico Zeri/Università di Bologna // CC-BY 3.0

Excellent GIF-making skills can serve you beyond material for your clever tweets. Each year, a group of four digital libraries from across the world hosts GIF IT UP, a competition to find the best animated image sourced from public domain images from their archives.

The competition is sponsored by Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), New Zealand’s DigitalNZ, and the National Library of Australia’s Trove, all of which host millions of public domain works. The requirements are that the source material must be in the public domain, have a 'no known copyright restrictions' statement, or have a Creative Commons license that allows its reuse. The material must also come from one of the sponsored sources. Oh, and judging by the past winners, it helps if it’s a little whimsical.

The image above won the grand prize in 2015. And this was a runner-up in 2016:

via GIPHY

This year’s prizes haven’t been announced yet (although Europeana says there will be a new one for first-time GIF makers), but last year’s grand prize winner got their own Giphoscope, and runners-up got $20 gift cards. (Turns out, there’s not a lot of money in public domain art.)

Not an expert GIFer yet? You can always revisit the audio version of DPLA’s advanced GIF-making tutorial from last year.

The fourth-annual GIF IT UP contest opens to submissions October 1.

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