In 2013 Sophie won the BP Travel Award at the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award exhibition.  She used the award to research 17th century portraiture and was fascinated by the incredibly detailed representation of rich fabrics and lace.

Created for The Harley Gallery, these works were inspired by the early history of Welbeck and the Cavendish family in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They depict various luxurious fabrics and embellishments such as velvet, lace and embroidery which could only be afforded by the social elite. The magnificent nature of these materials meant they were often the focus within portraits, rather than the sitters themselves.

These splendid and ostentatious items of clothing would have been worn by the Elizabethan and Jacobean aristocracy on an almost daily basis. A stark contrast to the modern day, where elaborate outfits are often reserved for special occasions and mass-produced, economic everyday wear has become more popular.

Ploeg’s paintings are extraordinary in their detail and, in turn, perfectly capture the skillful craftsmanship which went into the production of these fabrics.

Find out more about Sophie Ploeg.