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  1. #1
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    18th Century kilt and sporran

    Wandering around the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh last Saturday with three generations of my family, my attention was caught by this painting of the young John Campbell, 3rd Earl of Breadalbane, painted in 1708. Although I have seen this painting before, the X Marks site and, particularly, Matt Newsome's writings have made me much more aware of the box-pleated kilts .... now I see them everywhere!

    If I am not mistaken, this great kilt appears to have three or five finely-pressed box pleats on the front apron. Also noteworthy are the three tassels on the sporran which appear to be made from golden cord rather than leather.

    It's coming yet for a' that,
    That Man to Man, the world o'er,
    Shall brothers be for a' that. - RB

  2. #2
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    I am new to this site and the kilt but the eye to fine details the folks here display is just amazing. I learn a little something every time I check the forum. 2 weeks ago I didn't even realize there were different types of pleats, now I can actually visualize a box pleat. Keep it up with the endlessly fascinating subjects.

  3. #3
    Paul Henry is offline Membership Revoked for repeated rule violations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacRobert's Reply View Post
    Wandering around the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh last Saturday with three generations of my family, my attention was caught by this painting of the young John Campbell, 3rd Earl of Breadalbane, painted in 1708. Although I have seen this painting before, the X Marks site and, particularly, Matt Newsome's writings have made me much more aware of the box-pleated kilts .... now I see them everywhere!

    If I am not mistaken, this great kilt appears to have three or five finely-pressed box pleats on the front apron. Also noteworthy are the three tassels on the sporran which appear to be made from golden cord rather than leather.

    [IMG]http://www.nationalgalleries.org/media_collection
    /18/PG%202934.jpg[/IMG]
    1708 is in the 18th Century not the 16th... so perahps the mods can correct this please

  4. #4
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    Yep, 18th C., not 16th...

    Some images from the period reveal flat aprons in front:



    Others show pleats around the entire circumference:



    I can't tell if the painting of young Breadalbane shows wide box pleats or flat aprons, but apparently both methods were in use at the time....
    Brian

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

  5. #5
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    A box pleat would only be possible if the pleat was sewn-in which is unlikely on an early plaid so in the case of then Glenorchy and Grant portraits we're probably looking at the artist's attempt to recreate what he was seeing but didn't fully understand.

    The portrait of Lord George Murray may actually show a separate feileadh beag and plaid. Feileadh mor or beag it, like that worn by the elder of the MacDonald boys was probably unsewn and the pleats 'gathered' by a draw string.

  6. #6
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    18th Century indeed

    Perhaps artistic license but seeing the large oil painting of Breadalbane makes the pleating fairly clear. It is very flat as if pressed. The artist, I understand, was Irish, so probably not too familiar with kilts. On the other hand, the painting is very detailed in other respects such as the knots in the cravat and sporran tassels.
    It's coming yet for a' that,
    That Man to Man, the world o'er,
    Shall brothers be for a' that. - RB

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacRobert's Reply View Post
    Perhaps artistic license but seeing the large oil painting of Breadalbane makes the pleating fairly clear. It is very flat as if pressed. The artist, I understand, was Irish, so probably not too familiar with kilts. On the other hand, the painting is very detailed in other respects such as the knots in the cravat and sporran tassels.
    One always has to be careful looking at old portrait showing tartan and Highland Dress especially if the artist did not specialise in Scottish portraits. Such painters were often very good at what they knew i.e. European dress of the day but often had real trouble understanding tartan and how to represent its folds etc.

    The difficulty in representing and thus interpreting tartan is well illustrated in this case where the same part of the pattern can be seen painted differently.

  8. #8
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    And the tartan?

    That bears no known resemblance to any Campbell tartan I've seen. This and other portraits can be seen on line at the Scottish National Gallery site.

    This boy's grandfather was a Jacobite - which may come as a surprise to think that this clan were the most Whiggish of the "loyal" clans.

    A lot of what we think we know about Scottish history is far more complex than the "surface" version.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post

    The portrait of Lord George Murray may actually show a separate feileadh beag and plaid.
    Interesting thought. If he's indeed wearing a separate plaid, he has part of it pinned to his left shoulder (you can just make this out), and another part apparently jammed into his waistband underneath the left side of his waistcoat. That would seem an odd an uncomfortable way to wear it! Then again, the artist may be the one at fault, though it seems an accurate depiction in all its other details....
    Brian

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

  10. #10
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    I may be over thinking this, and I may also be giving the artist more credit than I should, but with the separate plaid and feileadh beag theory in mind:

    Is it me, or does it look like the "plaid" portion has notably bolder colors than the "feileadh beag" section? Like what might happen if the lower portion saw a lot more wear than the upper portion?

    Thoughts?

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