Today’s post isn’t about food, but it is an important topic when studying 18th century cooking – the lowly apron. We will be looking at utility aprons and not those beautiful sheer works of art worn by upper class women. The reader will kindly note that girls’ aprons were little different from those of their older counterparts.
1. “Market Girl” mid to late 18th century. Notice the pinner apron barely visible underneath her cloak. The cloak appears to be heavy, most likely wool.
2. Housed in the Walters Art Museum. The working woman wears a red apron which looks as if it might have a patch in the lower corner. She wears what is probably a dark petticoat and jacket underneath the apron, a white cap, and neckerchief. Cookware and vegetables are worth notice in this kitchen scene. She has a raised brick stove with tiles on the wall behind.
3. 1646, Girl Chopping Onions. Notice several pieces of kitchen ware – redware lamp on the window sill, pewter tankard, brass mortar and pestle, candlestick, etc.
4. The Chocolate Girl. She wears a white pinner apron. Note the unusual pink cap. She is probably a serving maid that does very little hard labor given her neat clean appearance. From her appearance she could easily be a family member and not a servant at all.
5. This mid-18th century painting shows the popular checked pattern in the apron fabric.
6. The Laundress, Chardin. Note the top corners of her apron are not attached to the twill tape ties.
7. “Watercress Seller” – this young lady wears a pinned bodice with a printed neckerchief underneath, a hooded cape tied at the front, possibly with twill tape, and her apron ties at the waist and is not a pinner apron. It may wrap around and tie in the front as was common, obscured by her hands in the painting.
8. “Little Begger” – the child wears clothing typical for a working class family although we would guess from the title of the painting her family has fallen on hard times, perhaps she’s been orphaned. She wears a dark blue jacket, a petticoat, and an apron. We cannot tell if she is wearing a pinner apron from this view. She has her apron hem tucked up into the waist, perhaps to avoid contact with a muddy street. She wears a neckerchief with a head covering tied underneath her chin and sturdy shoes. Perhaps the woman is her mother, perhaps not. She wears a bedgown, petticoat, well-worn indigo blue apron which is not a pinner apron and which appears to tie in front, a neckerchief, and the same warm head covering the child wears. It appears to be a square of cloth folded into a triangle and tied under the chin.