Originals–A Hint to the Bon Ton

Charles Williams British
Publisher S. W. Fores British

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This fashion satire by Williams, published in London by Fores, likely derives from an earlier French print that recorded the dress of "Incroyables" and "Merveilleuses" (fashionable Paris aristocrats who wore exaggerated styles during the French Directory, 1795-99; women favored neo-classical high-waisted and often revealing gowns ,and men tight coats with long tails, high neck pieces. bicorne hats). The image contrasts a tall and thin French couple at right with ungainly figures at left who may be Dutch. The French woman looks backwards and reveals a large scoop straw bonnet, as her companion bends from the waist and stands on tip-toe--a distinct posture associated with the Incroyables. Her scanty draperies part at the back as she walks to reveal a bare thigh, and he wears an enormous bicorne, exaggerated neck-piece, frilled shirt, green tailcoat, breeches, and pumps. The squat family at left includes a boy in long bulky breeches who holds a firework. Imitating French fashion, his father has adopted an exaggerated neckcloth and frilled shirt, and his mother an oversized straw bonnet. At the far left, a distainful man, perhaps English, retains old-fashioned garb. The Peace of Amiens (March 1802 to May 1803) offered a brief respite from the long Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, allowing Britons to visit Paris. This print was published soon after war resumed.

Originals–A Hint to the Bon Ton, Charles Williams (British, active 1797–1830), Hand-colored etching

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