Clothing of the middle classes in France during the rococo period.

Bourgeois, France, rococo, middle classes, costumes, Racinet, 18th century,
Costumes of the middle classes. Bourgeois women and their children.

1, 2,
4, 3,



Chardin, the painter of the bourgeoisie, has revived the bourgeois family piece, neglected since Abraham Bosse. Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are fragments borrowed from his paintings.

No. 1. Morning toilet.
The mother, dressed in the black cap with an open skirt, arranges a fanchon on the head of the little ones. As the prayer book lying on the chair and the still burning candle indicate, they are preparing to go to the early mass.

No. 2. Good breeding.
The mother, in the bonnet and breast cloth – the bodice and front part of the striped robe are covered by the pinafore – lets the daughter recite the Gospel. The latter is dressed in a dressing gown with a striped bodice.

No. 3. The governess.
Dressed in a negligee bonnet, a breast cloth, over a petticoat and a large white apron, she brushes the tricorn of the boy who is about to start school. The boy is wearing a lap skirt with broad lapels; his hair pouch is tied up with a bow.

No. 4. The love letter.
The lady in the Watteau robe with short sleeves with muslin trimming, lace-up bodice and petticoat with furbelows receives a love letter from a messenger, sitting carelessly on the sofa. The furniture of the elegant boudoir is in rocaille taste.

Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are taken from the engravings of Lépicié and Lebas after Chardin’s paintings.
No. 4 is marked: Aubert pinxit and Duflos sculpsit.

See Charles Blanc, La Vie des peintres and de Goncourt, l’Art au dix-huitième siècle .

Source: History of the costume in chronological development by Auguste Racinet. Published by Adolf Rosenberg. Berlin 1888.


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Auguste Racinet. The Costume History by Françoise Tétart-Vittu.

Racinet's Costume History is an invaluable reference for students, designers, artists, illustrators, and historians; and a rich source of inspiration for anyone with an interest in clothing and style. Originally published in France between 1876 and 1888, Auguste Racinet’s Le Costume historique was in its day the most wide-ranging and incisive study of clothing ever attempted.

Covering the world history of costume, dress, and style from antiquity through to the end of the 19th century, the six volume work remains completely unique in its scope and detail. “Some books just scream out to be bought; this is one of them.” ―