Category: 1860-1869

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1818-1907 – Elizabeth Keckley

Elizabeth Keckley, a remarkably successful dressmaker, built her career upon exacting technical standards, graceful clean lines, and an understanding of Parisian fashionable trends. She is well known for her work for the political elite of Washington DC, particularly for Mary Todd Lincoln. Keckley was one of the first African American women to publish a book and was an impassioned activist who created a relief organization for newly freed enslaved persons.

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1868

In 1868, skirts with long trains were at the height of fashion, which resulted in noticeable cropping in images depicting this prevalent style of dress. Yet, at the same time, walking dresses became daringly short, showing off fashionable ankle boots.

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1869

In 1869, women were beginning to wear bustled silhouettes, often with trains. Bright synthetic dyes continued to be popular and a taste for 18th-century revival elements like the polonaise was growing.

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1866 – Auguste Toulmouche, The Hesitant Fiancée

In The Hesitant Fiancée, Auguste Toulmouche steps away from his usual depiction of beautiful yet idle women Emile Zola described as “Toulmouche’s delicious dolls.” He refines his style by painting a more complex subject–one of an arranged marriage that the bride clearly rebels against, as evidenced by the subject’s direct gaze. Despite the shift of the subject matter, Toulmouche keeps to his standard of painting lavish gowns and luxurious backdrops.

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