Geneviéve-Sophie le Coulteux du Molay, 1788

by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

The lady illustrates a style typical of the last few years before the French Revolution: A certain style of manteau, derived from the robe à l'anglaise, indicative of a turn towards bourgeois ideals of simplicity and naturalness.

The hair, although still powdered, has a deceptively mussed-up look. The striped dress - very en vogue during those years - is bound with a soft ribbon sash that looks as though the lady had found an old scarf in a trunk. A fichu covers the oh so indecent low neckline that the oh so decadent older generation had favoured. The sleeves are long so as to coveras much flesh as possible.

The manteau features a wide collar copied from another "in" garment of the time, the rédingote (french-ised for riding coat) and is gathered back at the waist. The large hat marks a revival of ladies' hats which had not played any role during the whole century.



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