Category: 1870-1879


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1876 – James Tissot, Summer

In Tissot’s Summer, a woman stands in front of a room inviting someone in, or perhaps leaving. She wears a sheer muslin dress trimmed with yellow bows, which was considered fashionable for the time. Despite it being contemporary fashion, Tissot received criticism about his works that featured this dress at the 1877 Grosvenor Gallery. Over the years, Tissot repeats this dress in multiple paintings not only for its fashionability, but also for its artistic challenge.

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1879- Berthe Morisot, Young Woman Seated on a Sofa

Young Woman Seated on a Sofa by Berthe Morisot uses a light color palette and whimsical brushstrokes to create an elegant representation of the modern, bourgeois Parisienne. The painter brings elements of the outdoors into an airy apartment setting to emphasize the beauty of her subject. In demonstrating the upper class woman, Morisot takes care to use fashionable elements that would be admired by those in high society who engross themselves in symbols of femininity. 

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The year 1870 was characterized by an extensive use of vibrant, contrasting colors and ostentatious trims, tassels, and flounces. Emphasis was now placed on individual style over the following of trends. By juxtaposing the desire to be fashionable for the moment with the desire to find what looks good on one’s self, society at large saw wide variety in interpretations of fashionable dress.

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