Photo with 15 notes
Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and His Wife, Jacques-Louis David, 1788
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977.10, purchased with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Everett Fahy
In this painting, Mme Lavoisier wears the radical new costume of the 1780s: the gaulle (or chemise gown, or chemise á la reine …) which debuted in a portrait of Marie Antoinette by Vigée-le Brun. In its earliest incarnation, it took the form of two layers of fine muslin in a tube with loose sleeves; there would be a drawstring around the neckline (sometimes this drawstring would be several inches below the top edge of the double layer of muslin, creating a gathered ruffle at the neck) and another at the end of the sleeve. The waist would be gathered in with a colored silk sash. This style was intended to imitate ancient draperies, and was worn in extremely casual situations, but the gown developed more structured and heavier variants in the 1790s, and eventually resulted in the high-waisted gowns on the early 19th century.
As with women’s dress, fashionable men’s clothes of the time were plain, deliberately opposing the lavish silk suits of the aristocracy. M Lavoisier’s black suit marks him as a political liberal.