“Sketches Illustrative of the Manners and Costumes of France, Switzerland and Italy.”
Illustrations “Traditional folk costumes” by Richard Bridgens. Text by J.W. Polidori.
London. Baldwin, Cradock & Joy. 1821.
THE costume of Italy is peculiarly interesting, not only because it affords to the classical scholar many illustrations of the authors familiar to his youth; but also because it gives to the Artist the very materials from which many of the painters, who are the admiration of Europe, have taken the draperies of their celebrated pictures. The Roman butchers are still seen in the flowing robe represented in the ancient reliefs of sacrifices, &c.; while the Fornarina of Raphael, rivalled by many of the beauties of the present day, cannot boast a more magnificent dress than that worn, at this moment, by those of her own station.
The greater part of this work has therefore been given to the illustration of that country. The French costumes however are not neglected because uninteresting for many females of the lower orders still wear the very headdresses of the illustrious ladies mentioned in Froissart and Monstrellet but because, being in a field nearer home, they have been more completely exposed to the view of Englishmen.
A slight sketch has been introduced, in many of the engravings, of some spot, interesting either from its being a resort of the populace, or from its affording some recollections to the student. The various subjects will aid those who have travelled, in recalling to their minds scenes they may have dwelt on with pleasure, while such persons as have by circumstances been excluded from the enchanting country of Jtaly will find them useful in illustrating the descriptions given by their more fortunate friends.
To help the memory and imagination of these two classes of readers has been so very principal an object of this work, that the plates have been arranged in the order of the more common route through France, Switzerland by Mont Cenis, and Italy.
It was at first intended that this work should have consisted of 60 Plates; but as the number of Swiss costumes which have appeared in this country has in great part forestalled an intended part of the plan, it has been thought expedient to reduce the number to 50 by throwing out several Swiss figures.