Sunday, April 27, 2014

Print of the Day: A Fashion Plate from 1860

Fashion Plate
French, 1860
Published in Britain by Samuel Beeton
The Victoria and Albert Museum

A fashion plate is essentially an illustration for a magazine which shows the latest fashion. In the Nineteenth Century, these were lithograph and were issued hand-colored.

This example comes from 1860 from a magazine published by Samuel Beeton (the husband of the celebrated cookery writer Mrs Beeton). Samuel Beeton was the first to include hand-colored fashion plates with his publications. These were created by artist Jules David. Beeton also included paper patterns with the fashion plates. This new phenomenon ensured that Beeton’s magazine would be successful with ladies who counted themselves amongst the increasing numbers of owners of the home sewing machines which had become widely available starting in the late 1850s.

The painter of this plate, Jules David, was a well-known book illustrator and lithographer, but was most famous for his fashion plates. Throughout his career, David produced almost 2,600 fashion plates which were published in the “Moniteur de la Mode.” David’s plates were unique in many ways, but especially for their use of contemporary backgrounds.

This plate depicts examples of the ball dresses which were becoming fashionable in France in 1860. France, even then, dominated the world of fashion and these fashion plates were among the only ways to learn the latest colors and styles which dominated French fashions. The dresses shown here have wide skirts, showing the contemporary rise of crinolines and hoops.

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