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British Grenadier Mitre Cap, 2nd Regiment of Foot, circa 1740

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7 hours ago, Flasheart said:


All of those drawings in the Carman/Fosten article are derived from David Morier's paintings, which now reside in the Queen's collection.   The paintings record the uniforms of grenadiers of all(?) the regiments in the British Army, and were apparently commissioned by the Duke of Cumberland.  They were completed sometime between 1751-1770.

Morier depicted the decorative embroidery (vines?) in various ways, including with fruit and or green leaves.  That doesn't necessarily mean that he actually saw the mitre caps from every unit and painted them exactly as they were manufactured.  Almost none of those enlisted mitres have survived, so we have no way of knowing if they are meticulously accurate representations of what the grenadiers were wearing, or whether he only knew the regulation facing colour and regulation emblem and used artistic licence to fill in the rest of the details.  

Here are the Morier paintings of grenadiers of the 6th, 17th and 32nd Regiments:


Indeed, the Fosten images were clearly based on the Morier paintings; a remarkable resource, (although incidentally, I believe the date of the set is more usually estimated between 1749 and 1751,  which may be based more on official papers relating to the uniforms illustrated than any more forensic detail relating to the artist or the paintings themselves).

Your point about the Morier grenadiers being painted from life is an interesting one, given that the regiments of the British army were dispersed around  the kingdom, colonies and other foreign possessions ( the same observation applies to the less ambitious Dayes set  comissioned by Howgill for the Duke of York  in the early 1790s). The likelihood of an individual from each regiment, fully dressed and accoutred, or even said clothing and accoutrements on their own, being sent to Morier's studio for him to paint, is not great.  There may have been some sealed items stored in London, although at this point in history, so many elements being at the discretion of the Colonels rather than presscribed by central authority, I doubt that much data for Morier's set could have come from that source. I believe by the mid-C18th regimental lace was being logged centrally to ensure consistency and to avoid duplication but, apart from that resource, Morier may therefore have had to work up his figures mostly from written information.

As for those fronds/vines, we can only guess. They are clearly there to fill space according to the shape of the individual badges or monograms, although the distinctive examples shown for the 17th and 32nd are both fitting round the standard "GR" rather than the individual badges of the 'Old Corps.'  As the illustrations show, even the 'GR" emblem presented considerable variation. Given the cottage industry element in uniform manufacture at this time, quality control and consistency of execution was not as likely as the word 'uniform' might suggest.

Thank you for drawing my attention to this.


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I was wondering why the silk embroidery was done over cardboard cutouts, but then realised it is pretty obvious.  The cardboard cutouts provide a stiff template and a standard pattern around which the embroiderer can wrap the thread. Without the card, the embroidery would either pull tight and pucker the wool fabric, or would not retain its shape.  It must also have made it easier to standardise the embroidery patterns across the regiment by making dozens or hundreds of cardboard patterns when it was time to make a new run of caps. I have learned something about silk embroidery!

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