Les Invisibles (The Invisible Ones)

William Brocas Irish
After James Gillray British
Publisher J. Sidebotham British

Not on view

This caricature, focused on languid, hyper elegant French ladies and gentlemen, belongs to a type established in Paris by the publisher Aaron Martinet. His series Le Suprême Bon Ton (The Highest Good Taste, ca. 1798-1802) satirized French dress and manners under the Emperor Napoleon and, when the Peace of Amiens briefly opened cross-Channel travel, the images proved popular in Britain. After hostilities resumed in 1803, British printmakers created variations such as this Irish print based on a Gillray design. Impractical hat styles are the focus, specifically poke bonnets for women, with long tunnel-like visors that became modish around 1810. The exaggerated versions here force the wearers to rely on male escorts to walk, although the men’s own high collars and large hats turn them into unreliable guides.

Les Invisibles (The Invisible Ones), William Brocas (Irish, ca. 1794–1868), Hand-colored etching with roulette

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