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A7537 Wedding ensemble, including gown, gloves, shoes and wreath, satin / kid leather / lace / muslin / canvas / wax paper / cotton, maker unknown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia / Paris, France, worn by Mary Cameron Murray to her wedding to Varney Parkes, 1883. Click to enlarge.

Wedding ensemble worn by Mary Cameron Murray

Made
This wedding ensemble comprising dress, kid gloves, shoes and orange blossom wreath was worn by Mary Cameron Murray at her wedding on March 21st, 1883 to Varney Parkes, architect, businessman, politician and son of New South Wales Premier and 'Father of Federation', Sir Henry Parkes. The four components, held within the collection of the Powerhouse Museum, are well provenanced and enable us to gain considerable insight into wedding fashions and practices in Sydney in the 1880s. Their …

Summary

Object No.

A7537

Object Statement

Wedding ensemble, including gown, gloves, shoes and wreath, satin / kid leather / lace / muslin / canvas / wax paper / cotton, maker unknown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia / Paris, France, worn by Mary Cameron Murray to her wedding to Varney Parkes, 1883

Physical Description

Wedding gown of cream silk satin and lace. Floor length princess style dress with low draped bustle extending into train. Dress has high round neckline trimmed with lace and net, centre front fastening with row of 19 glass pearl buttons and handsewn buttonholes to hipline and wrist length sleeves trimmed at cuff with lace and net. An orange blossom spray in lace on left hand sleeve. The satin is arranged across front hips in five horizontal folds descending to five 140 mm lace flounces with band of ruched and pleated satin loosely gathered and ruched down train, caught by two tapes beneath. Bodice front is made in two pieces and the back in six pieces, it is lined with white cotton and boned at sides and front darts. The seams are machine sewn and hemmed with ribbon or slip stitched. the lining on the left side of the bodice is signed 'Miss Murray'.A inner waist band of linen tape fastens with hooks and measures 510 mm in circumference. The four gored skirt has multiple linings of stiffened muslin and double row of finely pleated lace edged muslin visible under hem.

Pair of three quarter length fine cream kid gloves, fastenings through to wrist with small glass buttons. Rolled edges with tape reinforcement under buttons. One seam to little finger, gussetted fingers, three darts over hand. Ends scalloped and pinked.

Pair of cream satin shoes with covered Louis heel, round toe and double satin bow. Fine leather sole, heavier leather capped heel. Interior sole and back half of shoe lined with white kid. Front half of shoes lined with canvas, edge reinforced with silk ribbon.

Three pieces of orange blossom wreath. Buds of wax over paper and cotton base, leaves of stiffened and painted fabric and fine white blossom, all bound on wire, padded with cotton in parts, with green paper and thread covering.

Marks

The lining on the left side of the bodice has been signed "Miss Murray" probably by the maker as the button reinforcing strip has been sewn over the top.

Production

Notes

The gown was probably made in Sydney by a dressmaker or small drapery establishment. It is beautifully tailored and finished. The fine quality of the fabric is matched by the hand made gloves and shoes. The gloves were purchased from Farmer's Department Store and the shoes imported from Paris and bought in Sydney.

The bodice of the cream satin gown buttons down the front from the high round neck to the hips. There are five upward pleats of satin falling 170 mm and extending beyond the hip line. Five flounces of cotton lace are sewn onto a four gored skirt. This has a low draped bustle of satin trimmed with lace, set into the back which extends into a long train.

The bodice is designed to be tight and perfectly fitted to the body. The front of the bodice is made in two pieces with nineteen pearl glass shank buttons and hand sewn button holes down the front. The bodice back is made in six pieces. All seams inside are machine sewn and hemmed with ribbon or slip stitched to avoid fraying. Some seams and darts are reinforced with metal strips. An inner waist band of linen tape (30 mm wide) hooks together and measures 510 mm.

The train is edged with 170 mm wide satin pleating, beneath which there is a layer of satin cut on the cross, beneath that is an edging of finely pleated muslin decorated on both sides with lace. Stiffly dressed fine cotton fabric lines the bustle and all the satin edgings.

The cream satin wedding shoes have large cream satin bows on the toes. The soles are soft leather with a suede type finish. The heels are low and slope inwards and have a harder, thicker piece of leather covering held in place with eight small shoemaker's tacks. The shoes are lined with kid on the bottom and the back sides. The rest is lined with a cream cotton fabric. There is a reinforcement strip of cloth running around the top rim of the shoes covered by a strip of satin cloth.

History

Used

  • 1883

Notes

Worn by Mary Cameron Murray at her wedding to Varney Parkes, son of Sir Henry Parkes on 28th March, 1883.

The beautifully tailored and finished gown is probably made in Sydney by a dressmaker or small drapery establishment. The fine quality of the fabric is matched by the hand-made gloves, purchased from Farmers department store and the shoes, which were imported from Paris, but also bought in Sydney.

The three-quarter sleeves and high neck make the gown appropriate for wearing at dinner and formal afternoon occasions. It was practical and customary for the bride to wear her wedding dress in the first year of marriage. This gown, however, shows little wear as within six months of her wedding, Mary died of a lung haemorrhage.

The wedding created a remarkable intermarriage berween the two families. Two years earlier, Sir Henry's daughter, Mary Parkes, had become Mary Murray through marriage to George Murray, the bride's father. On Mary Cameron Murray's wedding to Varney, she exchanged names to become Mary Parkes. This meant that Varney's sister became his mother-in-law while Mary's stepmother became her sister-in-law.

Mary's death did not end this family alliance. After the wedding her sister Isabella travelled overseas as companion to Sir Henry Parkes. She had been Mary's bridesmaid and her gown is also in the collections. Isabella and Sir Henry were away when Mary died. On their return Varney took Isabella to Rookwood cemetary to see Mary's grave. Within a month he proposed and they were married on Christmas eve 1884. Their marriage ended in separation after an application for divorce was rejected.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs J Gray, 1981

Acquisition Date

16 March 1981

Cite this Object

Harvard

Wedding ensemble worn by Mary Cameron Murray 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 July 2021, <https://ma.as/191876>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/191876 |title=Wedding ensemble worn by Mary Cameron Murray |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 July 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}