18th Century

ca. 1760 Robe a la Francaise inspiration

Though it’s going to be very late, I am working on my Robes & Robings project: a 1760s robe  Ã   la française.

My progress hasn’t been quite as fast as my very ambitious schedule, but it’s coming along.  I’ll show you the progress soon, but for now here are the extent garments and paintings that I am using as inspiration, because every good frock begins with research and inspiration.

My original jumping off point was, of course, Ramsay’s painting of Queen Charlotte:

The painting was begun in 1764, but Charlotte’s dress is not particularly fashion forward, which is good because I would like my dress to date a little earlier, without any design details that would be out of place in 1755.  The big problem with Charlotte’s frock is that you can’t see much of it.

You get a better look at these two frocks.  I’m particularly fond of Laura’s scrumptious blue & white number:

For some earlier inspiration, I adore this depiction of Louise-Elizabeth of France.  Her skirt trim is amazing, although my petticoat is already done.  And the pops of coral with her white frock are fabulous!  So no idea how much I’ll borrow for my gown, but I still find the portrait quite compelling.

Philippe de Bourbon, duke of Parma with his family (detail of his wife Louise-Elisabeth de France), G. Baldrighi about 1755, Galleria Nazionale, Parma

Philippe de Bourbon, duke of Parma with his family (detail of his wife Louise-Elisabeth de France), G. Baldrighi about 1755, Galleria Nazionale, Parma

Also in the 1750s is the first of three portraits of beautiful ladies in blue, all with very similar robing trim.  Madame Favarts dress inspires me because of the fabulous sleeve ruffles.

My earliest inspiration is this Portrait of an Unknown Lady: I love, love, love her robing trim, and the yellow & white stomacher?  Be still my heart!

An Unknown Lady at the Spinett, Johann Heinrich Tischbein d.Ä. (1753)

An Unknown Lady at the Spinett, 1753, Johann Heinrich Tischbein d.Ä.

Our Unknown Lady has very similar robings trim as Lady Innes, and I think they will be the primary inspirations for my robings trim.

Lady Innes, Thomas Gainsborough, 1757

Sarah, Lady Innes, Thomas Gainsborough, 1757.  The Frick Collection

And finally, an extent garment.  This fabulous frock has trim that matches Madame Favart, the Tischbein portrait and Gainsborough’s Lady Innes portrait, and matches my timeperiod perfectly:

I’ve also got a pinterest board with a bit more inspiration.

So that’s what I’m working towards, but first I have to actually construct the dress!  Then I can get to pretty trims 😉


  1. Lynne says

    You’ve obviously got to go all-out with the sleeves and the ruching – such fun! Remind us what colour the robe is going to be? I know you have told us, but I’ve forgotten.

    Wonderful paintings! All sorts of good detail, as well as being robe inspirations, of course. Is Louise-Elizabeth de France holding a large tatting shuttle, do you think? There seems to be a thread going down to her hand.

    Laura and Charlotte, the two Scottish ladies, look very out of period in these gowns – they just don’t have the faces for it. You can imagine them, ruling the world, in really good tweed skirts, though.

    Most entertaining.

    • The robe will be pale blue, just like the Queen Charlotte petticoat. I do think Louise-Elizabeth is holding a tatting shuttle and her workbag, which is partly why I like the depiction so much!

  2. Quincunx says

    That family portrait is hilarious. The little duchess has disarmed her brother and is playing keep-away. Of course the child-sized (in both senses) panniers are helping keep him away…

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