Hannah Dole, Hallowell Mural

This is Hannah Dole. I am including her in the Hallowell Mural.

So, what does it take to include a figure in a history mural?

Fortunately, Kate Trembly had an old portrait of Hannah Dole for me to work from, for likeness. However, my job is not just copying an old portrait onto the mural. My job is to animate her, bring her to life, and fit her into the “plot” of the mural. And while doing so, show her intelligence and the kindness in her soul.

Hannah Dole is going in the mural as she might have appeared in 1830. One of my first tasks is researching clothing of the period. I need to be careful to get this accurate to the time.

Would she be wearing the latest fashion? Or slightly older clothing? Modest or flamboyant?

I focused on clothing from the Late Regency and mid Antebellum periods in America— and pre Victorian period which began in 1837. Queen Victoria inspired a big change in clothing style again. But I am looking for clothes from roughly late 1820’s to 1830.

Women’s clothing changed a lot from the mid to late Regency period with the empire silhouette—1812-1820’s. Here is a very flowing empire style dress. A flowing style that accentuated the bust, neck and shoulders, with flowing, draping fabric.

Empire dress

Then sleeves began to get large just below the shoulder. Hairstyles changed. The bodice changed to a much more structured fit with waist stays to cinch in and accentuate the waist.

Antebellum, circa 1830

The type of fabric is very important too. You paint stiff fabric in a different manner than soft and flowing, draping fabric. Also, for what I need Hannah Dole would be wearing a dress she might wear to walk around town, not a fancy dinner gown. So lots of research.

The puff of the leg of mutton or gigot sleeves, shifted down the arm a few years later so I have to watch for details like this to make sure I hit the right time frame of fashion. And these large sleeves disappeared completely with the coronation of Queen Victoria and the advent of a new more sedate style.

Undergarments are supremely important. The dress she is wearing needs the support of the undergarments to fit right. So I need to see what those undergarments looked like. In this picture, the woman is wearing 3 petticoats and a small layered bustle to give the dress its volume. And full leg of mutton sleeves needed padding to maintain their puff.


Here is a fascinating youTube video on the undergarments worn in the 1830’s.

For the mural I am having Hannah Dole in a different pose from the portrait we have of her. So I used another model to pose how I wanted. I blocked in this figure and then used that head form as the starter recipe, if you will, to modify into how I wanted Hannah Dole to look. Changed the nose, the chin the cheekbones, etc. So this….

…became this.

Hannah Dole, so far…much work to do.

And Jen posed so I could get some arms to use for this pose. But that is tomorrow’s work.

There are over 100 figures in the mural and each one presents his or her own challenges to paint them right.

More on why I am including Hannah Dole, and specifically in 1830, in another post.