In the 1780s the styles from the previous decade continued to be popularized, emphasizing more casual clothing in both womenswear and menswear. At the same time, fashion publications were becoming a vital part of spreading trends and fashion news.
Jacques-Louis David painted famed scientist, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, and his wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, in 1788. This dual portrait was commissioned by Lavoisier and is executed in the neoclassical naturalism for which David is best known. Both are dressed in the latest fashions, embracing simplicity (in Paulze’s case) and somber restraint (in Lavoisier’s).
Vigée Le Brun’s infamous portrait of Marie Antoinette embodies the tension between fashion and politics in 18th-century France.
1787-9 – Alexandre-August Robineau, The Fencing-Match between the Chevalier de Saint-George and the Chevalier d’Eon
This 18th-century painting commemorates an historic fencing match between two French knights: one an illegitimate Black nobleman and the other a gender nonconforming spy.
The young man in this portrait, dressed in formal French aristocratic style, represents the final flourish (or last gasp?) of the ancien régime in the last years before the French Revolution.
Court painter Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun depicts the extremely fashionable Queen Marie Antoinette wearing late 18th-century French aristocratic costume (a robe à la française).
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