Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mistress of Herself

I've written about her before on this blog, but Mrs. Delany continues to capture my imagination and inspire me as my premier muse.  In addition to reinventing herself many times over, she kept living well and enjoying life long after many of her contemporaries had fallen.  Her gorgeous paper mosaicks (sic) created after her 72nd year, her needlework, her shell designs all remain for us to explore. 

I will forever be drawn to flowers on black backdrops such as the awe-inspiring dress above because it echoes so much of her art and needlework motifs.  In fact, if I had $425 un-earmarked, I would be purchasing Gucci's new and lovely Flower Print silk scarf.  With its roses, trailing vines, and even insects, it is the perfect foil for all things Delany.  I have officially embraced the movement.

But it really is the woman herself who draws me in.  Despite bitter hardships and a horrible arranged first marriage, she was always ready for her next reincarnation.  She never looked back.  She began creating her mosaiks during the potent stage of first grief after her beloved second husband's death - a time when one would expect a drawing in of life and creativity.  Instead, Mrs. Delany constructed over 1,000 pieces of artwork that still captivate us with their intricate detail and uniqueness.  She also maintained her friendships with the younger women in her circle through correspondence and extended visits, always curious about the latest fashions and trends. An arbiter of good taste and good sense, she was a woman who stood up for herself in times when women were suppose to be docile and subservient.  Mrs. Delany was no pushover and spoke her mind.  She knew who she was and based her life on that vision.  Lessons for today.  Difficult work for any woman.  Profound for an 18th century one.

Enthusiastic letter-writer, lively conversationalist, skilled needlewoman, social observer, she was mistress to no one but herself.   


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  2. I'll try again, Donna, to leave a comment. LOVE the dress above and sooo wish I had the coloring to carry it off. I do love your admiration of the amazing Mrs. D....love that she found her calling so late in life and didn't let her hard times embitter her. Such a wonderful role model!