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Picture of the Month


Fashion plate

from an unknown magazine

This fashion plate came to me as a single srap of paper with no indication of which magazine it was from - and no date. Let's see what we can make of it.

It is a small, hand-coloured copper print from the late 18th century. But when, exactly?
The first hint are the hairos: Full and curly, as if they hadn't been combed in a while. We find similar hairdos e.g. on Mrs Hallet (1785), a French fashion plate of 1787 and a portrait of Mother and daughter dated 1795, where the mother's dress seems to bear a certain similarity to the seated woman's. That's roughly ten years to choose from.

The second, and probably better, hint is the green sort of top hat. Those have been spotted in some other fashion prints. There's one in my database (a bit blurry, alas) dated 1792 and two in "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", both dated 1793. The same periodical also has some plates showing men wearing similar (but slightly larger) top hats, dated 1793 and 1794. Boucher's "20,000 years" has one dated 1790 and one 1793. It seems that those hats didn't last long.

Let' look at the dresses next. We don't see much of the left one since it's covered by a large neckerchief. That, however, is also a hint: The fichu is blousy, poufed up to form a "pigeon breast". A yellow sash with a bow in back seems to work as a belt. The right dress is also blousy across the front, with a wide belt or something belt-like. Let's see: Lady Price seems to be the earliest "pigeon" in my database (1787), Madame Lavoisier (1788) wears a sash with a bow at the small of the back, Catherine Clements (1788) may wear a sash, a pigeon neckerchief, and something top-hat-like, albeit much larger. In Bocher, similar dresses can be found as late as 1796.

My estimate, therefore, is early 1790s.


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