Well, A Happy New Year to you all! I hope all our British & European readers aren't suffering too much in the truly awful weather conditions. We actually didn't get stuck in the snow, but our car had a little problem and refused to start.
It took our Automobile Association, 6 days to get it sorted! ( I would have written A.A. there but that would look like we had a different problem! -"My name is Tony and I haven't had car trouble for six months"!) Anyway, the snow stopped customers getting to us, suppliers delivering to us and us delivering to customers, which caused a few headaches.
A break in the weather did give Gini a chance to get to Birmingham Museum to deliver and set up the display shown on the left, which is a copy of the ensemble shown in the painting "The Music Lesson" by Jacob Ochtervelt (1634-1682). Both gown and painting are on show at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
Deeper analysis of this portrait raised some questions about the bodice/jacket and its construction - particularly the back. Looking at other portraits by Ochtervelt and his contemporaries, working in the low countries at this time period and examining other extant garments, did not resolve the questions and it may be that either the jacket/bodice is somewhat anomalous, or that we have discovered a style for the period previously unrecorded. With only one painting pointing towards this style of bodice back we still cannot be sure.