The time is the start of the 19th century, the place: Europe. Love is the preserve of everyone but not everyone can express their undying and unwavering love in quite the grand way elites of European royalty filled with all the opulence in the world are able to do. During this time the royal courts of Europe stood head and shoulders above all others and the women in these courts were showered with love from their suitors and husbands who often went away on epic journeys of discovery and conquest. From England to France, women had one gift at the top of their list—the Kashmir Paisley shawl. These shawls came from a far, far away land; a place rich in history, culture, and artistic superiority. Kashmir was no ordinary place and anyone who wanted to show their love for a woman at this time of unheralded change in European fashion and trade had to make the journey to this epic land.
Painting 1 : Portrait of a young lady in a red dress with a Kashmir Paisley Shawl – Eduard Friedrich Leybold – 1824
Painting 1 illustrates the stunning detail and preferred 19th century style for wearing Kashmir Paisley shawls. Captured by Eduard Friedrich Leybold in 1824, it shows the regal nature of the time and the beauty of the paisley shawl as an accessory.
European women in particular had a romantic fling with Kashmir shawls and the mystic of the East and this lent itself well to transforming the European fashion scene to one almost dominated by fashion from that region.
Painting 2: Yelizaveta Demidova (1779-1818) , previously Baroness Elisabeth Alexandrovna Stroganoff, wife of Nikolai Demidov, the exceeding wealthy owner of mines and foundries in the Urals, Russia; c.1805 (oil on canvas) by Lefevre, Robert (1755-1830) – Wearing Kashmir Shawl and a dress with Kashmiri Paisley motif embroidery.
Kings, adventurers, explorers all had to ensure that on return home, the gift of love was wrapped neatly and on open, a Kashmir shawl was inside. Nothing less could do.
The super-wealthy of European gentry was also had a penchant for expressing their love with the gift of Kashmir Paisley shawls from the beautiful and respected land in the East. Nikolai Demidov, a wealthy Russian who dominated the mines and foundries of the Urals region in Russia was very fond of expressing his undying love to his wife, Yelizaveta Demidova (1779-1818). Yelizaveta who was a baroness no less had developed an exquisite taste for timeless fashion and made sure that her husband in expressing his chivalrous and unbridled passion give her nothing but Kashmir Paisley shawls embroidered with the most beautiful and timeless motifs. (Painting 2)
Kashmir had long since captured the imagination and wonder of European travelers and this proved the case with Napoleon Bonaparte when he made his journey to the East. Napoleon showered Empress Josephine, his wife, with all the love and adoration you could and often brought timeless pieces of art and fashion on his return from his long and epic journeys across the orient. In one such display we can see Empress Josephine depicted in a portrait wearing a beautiful and extravagant Kashmir shawl dotted with the beautiful and timeless motifs from the epic land of Kashmir. (Painting 3)
Painting 3: Empress Josephine at Malmaison holding a Kashmir Shawl – 1801 – oil on canvas – Musee Nat. du Chateau de Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison, France.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s penchant for showing his undying love to the women that came in his life transcended him and no less than his nephew, Napoleoan III, took up the magnificent mantle of bestowing Kashmir Paisley shawls to the women he loved. Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, 16th Countess of Teba and 15th Marquise of Ardales gives historical significance to the wearing of Kashmiri motifs in all modes of dress ranging from beautiful and timeless shawls to dresses adorn with the artistic and mystical inspirations emanating from Kashmir. (Painting 4)
Painting 4: Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, 16th Countess of Teba and 15th Marquise of Ardales (5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo, was the last Empress consort of the French from 1853 to 1871 as the wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French. Oil on Canvas.
The French, Russian and British aristocracy carried on the lofty ideals of dominating high fashion, taste and class for many years and this carried through eventually to all segments of society. The Kashmir Paisley shawl became the ultimate status symbol for discerning women looking to accentuate their beauty and taste for timeless fashion and art. The Paisley motif has now transcended time and even today is still one of the most sought after design and embroidery motif on everything from shawls to scarves.
Lovers are still enamored by the timeless nature of the artistic pieces that came comes from the epic land of Kashmir and so unsurprisingly, the greatest love is expressed with the greatest gift, a timeless Kashmir Paisley shawl. Love has been around for thousands of years and the Kashmir Paisley shawl has done an immeasurable duty in keeping love alive for the last 300 years and counting.
The Paisley is a symbol of love and has its genesis in Kashmir. The Paisley shawl came to define love and gifting due to its sheer popularity among the elite. There are countless portraits created during this period showing the adoration among women for the Kashmir Paisley shawl. Everyone who was anyone had one (or many) in their wardrobe.
Here are countless examples of how royalty used Kashmir Paisley shawls as a symbol of love for the last 300 years.
Königin Pauline Württemberg wearing a Kashmir Paisley Shawl . Painting by Joseph Karl Stieler – ca. 1825. She was born a Württemberg and married a Württemberg. She is holding her son Karl who married Grand Princess Olga.
Portrait of Catherine Worlée, Princesse de Talleyrand-Périgord with a Kashmir Paisley Shawl – portrait by François Gérard – c. 1804 and 1805
Madame Récamier (Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Récamier ) wrapped in a Kashmir Shawl by Francois Gérard (1802), known as Juliette, was a French society leader, whose salon drew Parisians from the leading literary and political circles of the early 19th century.
Félicité-Louise de Durfort Constance De Durfort, Marechale de Beurnonville wearing a Kashmir Paisley Shawl. c. 1808/13. Oil on Canvas -Merry-Joseph Blondel. Félicité-Louise de Durfort was the youngest daughter and namesake of Félicité, Count de Durfort, Colonel of the Dauphin’s Regiment, pre-Revolutionary French Ambassador of France to the Republic of Venice.
Christine Boyer (3 July 1771, Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume – 14 May 1800) was a member of the Bonaparte family, as the sister of Lucien Bonaparte’s housekeeper and then Lucien’s first wife- by Antoine Jean Gros – 1800 – Wearing Kashmir Paisley Shawl
Portrait of the Empress Josephine wearing a Kashmiri Shawl – 1805 by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, Oil on Canvas at Musée du Louvre, Paris, France
Portrait of Madame Riviere nee Marie Francoise Jacquette Bibiane Blot de Beauregard by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres – 1806 – oil on canvas – Musée du Louvre, Paris, France. Wearing Kashmiri Paisley Shawl
Portrait of Madame de Senonnes by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres – c.1814 – musée des Beau Arts, Nantes, France – Wearing a Kashmiri Paisley Shawl
Portrait of Sophie of Sweden (1801-1865), Grand Duchess of Baden, 1831 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter – wearing Kashmiri Paisley Shawl – 1831
Mary Lodge, Bride of Baron Charles-Louis de Keverberg de Kessel wearing Kashmir Paisley Shawl. 1818
Portrait of Colette Versavel Wife of Isaac J de Meyer holding a Kashmir Paisley Shawl – by Ducq Joseph Francois – 1822.
Portrait of Joséphina Fridrix wearing a Kashmir Paisley Shawl – (Riesner) 1813.
Portrait of Madame Panckoucke wearing Kashmir Shawl. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres – Musée du Louvre, Paris. – 1811
Portrait of the Vicomtesse Vilain XIIII wearing a Kashmir Shawl and her daughter, Jacques Louis David – 1816.
Portrait of a lady wearing a Kashmir Shawl – Henri François Mulard. Circa 1810
A Mother with Two Children wearing Kashmir Paisley Shawls – Chalon, Alfred Edward, – 1815-1820.
Madame Jacques-Louis Leblanc (née Françoise Poncelle, 1788–1839) by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres – Oil on Canvas – Wearing Kashmiri Shawl – 1823
( Images courtesy : Louvre Museum – France )