The Art of Dress - Ribeiro, Aileen - Yale University Press
  • Aug 30, 1995
    264 p., 9 1/4 x 11 1/4
    200 b/w + 50 color illus.
    ISBN: 9780300062878
Art and Architecture
Social Science

The Art of Dress

Fashion in England and France, 1750–1820

  • Aileen Ribeiro
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Out of Print.

Dress is the most fleeting of the arts, subject to the arbitrary dictates of fashion. It is also, however, the art that relates most closely to our lives, both as a reflection of our self-image and, in the words of Louis XIV, as "the mirror of history." This handsome book examines English and French fashion from 1750 to 1820 by studying the art of the period, and it shows how changes in dress reflected social, political, and cultural developments in the two countries.

Closely analyzing a wide range of visual sources—including portraits and history paintings, sculpture, drawings, caricatures, and fashion plates by such artists as Reynolds, Gainsborough, Lawrence, David, and Ingres—Aileen Ribeiro describes the development of fashion during this period. She investigates, for example, how English and French attitudes toward formality and informality were reflected in their dress; how revolution and war affected what was worn; how the concept of fashion was brought to a wider audience, partly because of technological advances in the production of textiles and partly because of a new ideology that linked dress and politics in a movement toward democratization; and why by the end of the era French styles dominated women's fashions and English tailoring dominated men's fashions. A large part of the book looks at the different ways that England and France appropriated the dress of the past for a variety of political, social, and cultural reasons, not only in fashion but also in social events, in art, and in official and ceremonial costumes.

This book—the first to cover the history of dress from the point of view of the artist—will be essential and delightful reading for those interested in eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century art or fashion.

Aileen Ribeiro is head of the History of Dress Department at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. She is the author of several books on the history of costume.