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Picturing a World

Torn party dress

As we enter the season of parties, parties, parties, we can either rejoice or regret that the era of the lady’s maid in the cloak closet is long past. In 1922, Emily Post could still write, “Fifteen minutes before the dinner hour, Mrs. Worldly is already standing in her drawing-room.… She knows without looking that … that footmen are in the hall; that her own maid is in the ladies’ dressing-room, …and that her butler is just outside the door near which she is standing" (emphasis mine).

This young party-goer certainly needs Mrs. Worldly’s maid or Cornelia Renick’s Bette! Does the picture suggest a story? And does anyone know either clothing styles or Henry Tonks’ work well enough to guess at the date?

Henry Tonks was an almost exact contemporary of the real Jeanette Smith. As a painter of interiors and women, he may give me some hints for my fictional character's later work or a visit to London. For a brief bio of Tonks and more images, click here.

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