Thursday, April 12, 2012

1778 Robe à la Française and More French Fashion Plates

Today I have a few more fashion plates from the time of Marie Antoinette.
This handful of French fashions are from around the years 1776-1778.

I love the fact that several show the back view of the garment so we get a better 
understanding of what some of these amazing dresses looked like from the rear view.  
My favorite of these is of a style known as "Robe à la Française" or a Sack-Back dress.

I had some fun taking that image, creating a variety of colorized PNGs
and then using the Aqua Version to create another of my artscenes.

"Lady with a Letter"
Digital scene I created using an altered 1778 French Fashion Plate of a Sack-Back Gown

I enjoy creating digital art using subjects that face away from the viewer, like the one above.
This scene is left a bit vague since there does not appear to be anything to view from the archway.
I like to think that at any moment the "fog" might clear to revel a beautiful setting but it's up to the viewer as to what that might be - Paris, London, beautiful mountains, a water scene...


A few French Fashion Plates from the 1770's

c1776 French Fashion Plate
Dress in the style of "Robe à la Polonaise"
There were many variations on the Polonaise style this is just one of them.

c1776 French Fashion Plate
This dress is in the style of "Robe à l'Anglaise
(Anglaise = English/American version with a bustle rather than pannier hoops and a draped 
back that begins at the lower "v" portion on the back of the bodice where the skirt begins ) 

For more information on this style click HERE 

c1776 French Fashion Plate - Back View
This dress is in the style of "Robe à l'Anglaise
(Anglaise = English/American version with a bustle rather than pannier hoops and a draped 
back that begins at the lower "v" portion on the back of the bodice where the skirt begins )   

For more information on this style click HERE 

1776 French Fashion Plate - Back View
Back view of a dress in the style of
"Robe a la Cirassienne" which is a version of the "Robe à la Polonaise".

"Cirassienne" is a specific looking version of the "Polonaise".
The Cirassienne has more elaborate decorations; specifically trim such as
fur or tassels, which distinguish it from the typical Polonaise. 

c1778 French Fashion Plate
This dress is in the style of "Robe à l'Anglaise
(Anglaise = English/American version with a bustle rather than pannier hoops and a draped 
back that begins at the lower "v" portion on the back of the bodice where the skirt begins ) 

For more information on this style click HERE

c1778 French Fashion Plate
Dress in the style of  Caraco or Casaquin
There were a wide variety of bodice and skirt combinations possible at this time.
Here is an example where the bodice portion is in the "Caraco" style.

(Bodice style with the look of a fitted jacket that has a peplum skirting effect to it.)

How the pleats fell in the back determined if it was a Caraco or Casaquin; similar to
the difference between the "Robe a la Francaise" and the "Robe a l'Anglaise"

For more images on Caraco or Casaquin see HERE  HERE and HERE 

For pictures and more information on the difference between the two visit
American Duchess blog HERE (a great resource on Historical Costumes)

1778 French Fashion Plate - Back View
In the style of "Robe à la Française or Sack-Back dress.
(Francaise = French version with the wide Pannier hoops and the long draped back)
 The bonnet is a l'Anglaise and has a more Colonial American look to it.

Another good link on late 18th century fashions - click HERE

This image just "speaks" to me; so she's the one I choose to turn into a PNG
and create several colorized versions to play with.
I hope you enjoy her and find lots of fun uses for her in you artwork too.

The PNGs

Here she is close to the original colors
I did change the color or her ribbon and fan a bit rather
than leaving it all original. I hope you don't mind.
(I liked her so much that she is also the image on my "Email Me" button)

Yellow Version

Green Version

Aqua Version - I used this version in my artscene

Periwinkle Version

Lavender Version

Peach Version

Silver Version

Pink Version

Here is one more look at the artscene I created 
using the Aqua Version of this 1778 fashionable lady.

"Lady with a Letter" by EKDuncan 2012

I find this scene peaceful and think of it as a contemplative piece that tells a small part 
of the story; which the viewer gets to complete using their own imagination. 
 She is a lady with a letter but since you can't see her facial expression you have to wonder what she is feeling. Does the letter bring good news or sad?  Is the letter from a husband, lover, brother, sister, or someone else?  Is the letter recently received or is from a long time ago?

I can imagine all kinds of scenarios for this lovely lady, her setting and what the letter contains...
How about you?

Please feel free to leave a comment, I'd love to hear your
interpretation of the scene or how it makes you feel.

till next time...


  1. Oh Evelyn, you make the images look so ALIVE! That´s what I love most about your wonderful collages, you create the finest of scenes!!

    1. Thanks so very much Ira - You have made my day!!!

      Big Grins,

  2. Hello,
    I love the "Robe à la Polonaise", because it looks like miniature dresses to compare with the dresses of previous article. While also being beautiful, they should be lighter to wear. It's also nice to see the back of dresses.
    Many thanks for the fabulous images!

    1. Hey Sylvie,

      The "Robe à la Polonaise" is a great pick. There were so many possible versions that I don't think a lady could tire of the style.
      Yes, they do look so flirty and lighter to wear.

      I'm glad to see I'm not alone in appreciating the back view of these gowns.


  3. Can you tell me where you found the fashion plate:c1776 French Fashion Plate - Back View. Dress is in the style of "Robe à l'Anglaise" I have been looking for the original source and would appreciate any direction you can give me! Love your site...

    Violet Carlon

    1. Hey Violet - The fashion plates in this post came from an old 1912 book called Galerie des Modes et Caostumes Francais 1776-1787 and are based on Fashion plates that were originally produced at the time of the costume listed. Antique folio prints from the original printing can be found in black and white or in colored versions. These prints were subsequently reproduced over the years into bound volumes and those too were reproduced several times over with slight changes in coloration from printing to printing. Probably due to the fact that the original colored plates were hand-colored and no two were ever exactly the same so when they were later copied to be printed in books using more modern techniques it was up to the new printers to interpret what coloration was most appealing to be used. The images I've shown are from the 1912 printing of the fashion plate book. in a different post - - I've shown an example of how printers altered the coloration of one image from one original from the late 1700s to what it became in the 1912 book printing. I hope you find the information of use.

      Best Wishes,
      Evelyn aka EKDuncan

  4. Hi there, I was wondering where i could find an original of the: c1776 French Fashion Plate - Back View. This dress is in the style of "Robe à l'Anglaise". It is the plate with the woman looking at the letter. I know these are very rare! I appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks so much,

    violet carlon

    1. Hi Violet - That image is one of my favorites as well. These fashion plates were originally produced in the late 1700s and then the plates were later re-issued in volumes though the years and into the early 1900s, so they are out there but finding originals are a bit difficult to get sometimes. You may want to try online auctions like eBay or auction houses that deal in rare prints. Over the years many of these bound volumes have been disassembled and sold image by image so you might one day find the exact one you are looking for. It may be much harder to locate an original printing from the 1770s-80s than one from the late 1800s or early 1900s and be aware that you may need to pay a lot for it when you find it, but then again you may luck up and find it for a bargain if you are diligent in searching for it and are not too picky about the condition it might be in due to age.

      Happy Hunting,
      Evelyn aka EKDuncan