The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
A7538 Bridesmaids dress, comprising bodice and skirt, wool / satin, worn by Isabella Murray at marriage of Mary Murray to Varney Parkes, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia, 1883. Click to enlarge.

Bridesmaids dress worn by Isabella Murray

Made
This bridesmaid's dress was worn by Isabella Cameron Murray at her younger sister Mary's 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. This dress, along with her sister Mary's wedding ensemble comprising dress, kid gloves, shoes and orange blossom wreath is held within the collection of the Powerhouse Museum. The items are well provenanced and enable us to gain considerable …

Summary

Object No.

A7538

Object Statement

Bridesmaids dress, comprising bodice and skirt, wool / satin, worn by Isabella Murray at marriage of Mary Murray to Varney Parkes, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia, 1883

Physical Description

Bridesmaids dress comprising bodice and skirt of cream coloured merino wool.

Bodice has pointed back and front with panniers, three-quarter sleeves, round neck and centre glass pearl button fastening. Large royal blue satin bow at back point, piping at bodice base, neck and sleeve top and edge. Triple lace frill at neck, single frill round pannier edges. Bodice lined with blue sateen, giving it a darker hue.

Skirt of tan sateen covered in front from hip with cream merino arranged in five rows of ruching of increasing size to hem. Cream merino gathered at back and pleated from sides to form bustle. Box pleats over narrower band of smaller blue satin pleats. Side placket opening, pocket in opposite side and two tapes gather back skirt.

Production

Notes

The gown is styled in the mode fashionable for 1881, when a two year fashion lag was typical in the colony of New South Wales. The gown would have been made in Sydney by a dressmaker or small drapery establishment.

History

Notes

This bridesmaid's dress was worn by Isabella Cameron Murray at the marriage of her younger sister, Mary, to Varney Parkes, only son of Sir Henry Parkes. The wedding took place on 21st March, 1883 in Forbesville (house), Liverpool, New South Wales.

The wedding created a remarkable intermarriage between the Parkes and Murray 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.

After Mary's wedding her sister, Isabella, who wore this bridesmaid dress, travelled to Britain and the United States as companion to Sir Henry Parkes. Isabella and Sir Henry were away when Mary died of tuberculosis only five months of marriage. On their return Varney took Isabella to Rookwood cemetary to see Mary's grave. Within a month he proposed and Varney and Isabella were married on Christmas eve 1884. Their marriage ended in separation after an application for divorce was rejected.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs Jane Gray, 1981

Acquisition Date

16 March 1981

Cite this Object

Harvard

Bridesmaids dress worn by Isabella Murray 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 October 2021, <https://ma.as/191885>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/191885 |title=Bridesmaids dress worn by Isabella Murray |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}