I’ve been away for a very long time, I’m sorry.
I’ve seen several photographs of Victorian ladies lying on sofas, some nude, some without corsets, and some very clearly tightly and rigidly corseted. So, I did a little searching for photographs (I’m avoiding drawings because the drawer draws what people want to see) and made a few unscientific opinion surveys to find out what people think about these poses today.
First, a few images to set the scene!
It does appear that being photographed on a sofa was popular in the Victorian age! Why? Well, I believe there are several complex reasons interwoven with the current social values. Try these:
First, lying on a sofa gave the impression of informality, try to change the former “stand straight and look at the camera” style of photo. The first two photo show a wasp waist. As Anna Held was an actress and this was a publicity photo I assume that this was the smallest waist that she was prepared to wear.
Second, I think the first two photos would be considered soft porn at the time. The message is complex, “I am ready for you to seduce me (come and get me!), but I am safe in my armor plated, rigid corset”. This view is supported when I asked non historically minded men in the family to comment. One 19 year old nephew commented on Anna Held “she looks sexy but I would need a can opener to undress her”.
The first two photos offer a combination of the rigid upright pose required in the 19 century and gentle relaxation. Yes, the two ladies are relaxing on a sofa, but their bodies are held rigid by their corset. See the photo below to see what that means.
The third photo is not like the first two. She is relaxing, and there is no sexual invittion at all. She is probably wearing a corset, but she is not showing it off as the first two ladies do.
So, what shape do you have if you lie on a sofa without a rigid corset. Here are some examples.
The first modern lady in a pink corset goes half way, but the corset is not totally rigid and she bends in the middle. Probably more comfortable, but not the Victorian ideal.
Much the same for the second cigarette smoking lady. My current day male regarded this photo as less sexy than the rigid corseted ladies in the first two photos in this post.
The third photo show the same, a modern body, modern corset and no rigidity.
The last and fourth photo shows a lady perhaps 20 years after the “rigid body” photos at the start of this post. However, she probably is wearing a corset, but less rigid and no wasp waist.
And finally, the ultimate corsetless woman on a sofa.
She was the sister of Napoléon, born 1780 and became an Italian princess. This statue was made in 1805 at the height of the “corsetless” regency period. As a well born girl in the 1780 and 90s she would have been used to tight stays, not that you can tell from the statue!
Well, a quick post on corsets and sofas;. Please comment, or even send me your own corset and sofa image, I’ll add it here.
Love to all, Mintie.
Continue reading “Corsets and Sofas – rigid seduction?”