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Woman in a Fashionable Dress

The roots of modern fashion illustration date back to the late eighteenth century. As the reading public became more fashion conscious, artists began to produce single-sheet colored prints and illustrations for almanacs and serials. This drawing, inscribed with a month and year, may have been a study for a print in Galerie des Modes et Costumes Français, which claimed to have “designs from nature” that depicted real-life ensembles worn by French elegantes in Paris or at the royal palace at Versailles. Desrais designed the first sixty-eight prints in the series. Many such images were destroyed during the French Revolution because they were associated with an earlier period of decadence and suggested aristocratic sympathies.

Claude-Louis Desrais
French, 1746–1816
Woman in a Fashionable Dress
1778
Black ink and brown ink wash on paper
Image: 9 7/8 x 7 ¼ in. (25.1 x 18.4 cm); sheet: 10 ½ x 7 15/16 in. (26.7 x 20.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Arnold Marks, 91.461