The 15-18th Century Women's French Court Dress.
(from the Print Department's collections)


    Starting from the ancient days, dress was not solely covering for the human body. Throughout history, clothing have always linked to art. Costume mirrors the actual ideal of the time and varies with the evolution of the society.
    Costume is not merely a craft, but an art which reacts to current art trends; and, conversely, other art forms are vast visual resources for learning the dress of any historic period. Through the study of fresco, sculpture and decorative arts, portrait and ganre painting we can research costume history.
    Since the 17th century, Paris has dictated Western fashion. No wonder that fashion magazines first appeared in France in the late 18th century. The "Golden Age" of periodicals for ladies lasted from the 1830s to the 1870s. Numerous women's magazines were important guides to the changing world of fashion. They not only featured the latest styles but provided information on the history of costume.
    In 1854, the magazine "Parisian Fashions" published a special album on the history of French stume from the Reign of Charles VII to the Reign of Louis XVI. 20 plates illustrated the development of both women's and men's court dress for the period of 1460-1780. The album represented hand coloured engravings by Gabriel Xavier Montaut, Adolphe Portier and Monnin by designs of Francois Claudius Compte-Calix.
    Compte-Calix (1813-1880) was a profilic artist whose poetic genre paintings, some having a sentimental theme, were exhibited at Salons in Paris almost every year, beginning in 1840. They had a great success, so many of them were reproduced on engravings and lithographs. Compte-Calix himself practiced lithography. He also was a well-known portraitist and illustrator who created a whole number of illustrations for Parisian fashion magazines.
The French Court of Charles VII (1460)
The French Court of Louis XII (1510)
The French Court of Henry IV (1600)
The French Court of Louis XIII  (1630)
The French Court of Louis XV (1715)


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