Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Drama Queens - Opera Costumes from the time of Marie Antoinette

There is a small collection of Opera or Theater Costumes from the time
of Marie Antoinette that I simply adore. 

I have nicknamed this interesting collection of fashion plates
"Drama Queens" just for the fun of it.

(I liked several these ladies so much that I've created my own altered versions of them;
and will be posting some fun artwork using them in upcoming posts.)

Late 18th Century Opera or Theatrical Costume (French)

Not all the costumes are of women, there are some male entertainers as well; 
however the costumes are a bit bizarre - which makes them all the more fascinating.

These French "Theatrical" Costumes are from the late 1770's.
Just the perfect time period for all you Marie Antoinette fans.

I hope you enjoy seeing them!


A bit about 
"Galerie des Modes et Costumes Francais"

In the late 1700's two print sellers in Paris decided to sell fashion plates of current fashions and costumes of the time.  They dubbed this plate series "Galerie des Modes et Costumes Francais" and started selling these plates sporadically from 1778 till 1787.  

 Over the years there have been several book published containing variations of these designs.
Some are black and white only versions of the fashions, others are less crisp colorized versions and then there is my favorite the 1912 version by M. Paul Cornu.

In 1912 many of them were re-worked and sold as a 4 "folio" set.
The images I'm displaying above are from the more modern 1912 version; however I did want you to see an example of an older print from the late 1700's for comparison. 

A much older version "original" version of this fashion plate
I think you will agree that while this older print has a lot of charm;
the 1912 versions are a more entertaining way to view these designs.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing these fantastical costumes from the late 1700's.

Till the next time...


  1. These are utterly beautiful! You never cease to amaze me Evelyn with your gorgeous finds!

    1. Thanks again Ira -
      I love old books and old treasures of all kinds,
      so I'm always on the hunt.


  2. I agree, the 1912 version is much more colorful. All of the plates are charming and the dresses are fabulous. The chinese ones made me laugh, especially the female version. Thank you for sharing these with us. You have a big heart sharing these treasures with us.
    Terri D.

    1. Thanks so much Terri.
      Ya - I'm not sure if the 1912 versions might not be overly colorful in their representation of these costumes considering how tame the colors on the "older" print are. However they sure are entertaining and with them being theatrical costumes, I can rationalize them being a bit over the top.

      I'm glad you are enjoying them,

  3. These images give the word "richness" new meaning. I absolutely love them. I had to back and read you -- because I couldn't believe that you were sharing these for our artistic endeavors! I love the dancers. Thank you so much, you are so generous, Eveyln!

    1. Thanks Sheila -

      I'm sure the original artists never imagined that their beautiful work would still be enjoyed over 200 years later. (Well I guess in the case of these 1912 re-prints it would be 100 years later).

      I've really enjoyed creating some fun art pieces with them (watch for upcoming posts to see those) and I hope others have a blast playing with them too.


  4. Hello!
    .... Wow!It's gorgeous! I'm speechless.
    Thank so much!!!

    1. Thanks Sylvie - I'm so glad you like them.
      I think they are a fun collection of period theatrical costumes.

      Keep checking back, I've created some fun art-pieces using some of them.


  5. Dear Evelyn,
    these are simply amazing, much better than the uncoloured versions in any of my books! Thank you so much for posting them. I am giving a talk on the history of stage costumes in a few weeks, I hope it will be OK to use them [with a credit for you, of course] Such images will make all the difference!
    all the best

    1. Thank you for the kind words Clancy - I'm so glad you enjoyed seeing these vintage treasures and I'm thrilled to know they will be used in such a great way.

      Please remember that these colorized versions are from a later period (1912) than the originals (1770's) would have been, so the color schemes are more in keeping with the trends of what would have appealed to a 1912 audience or in keeping with what the 1912 publishers thought the costumes should have been colored, rather than what they originally looked like in the 1770's

      An example of this can be seen by viewing the last image in the post, which shows how a 1770's plate was actually colored.

      Cheers and good luck with your lecture,