Portfolio: 1878 ‘Jeanne Samary’ Evening Gown

Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary, Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1878, Collection of the Hermitage

The Idea and Inspiration:

To recreate the evening dress worn by Jeanne Samary in Renoir’s Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary, now in the collection of the Hermitage.

I wanted the dress to be both historically accurate, and to capture the mood and impression of Renoir’s painting, so my recreation is an interpretation of both the original frock, and Renoir’s artwork.

Fabric and Materials:

Ashen mauve silk tissue ruches and poofs over cotton broadcloth.   Vintage buttons and buckle to trim.   Featherweight plastic boning, metal hooks to fasten.

The Dress Diary:

Introduction and inspiration

Creating the ruching and ruffling

Felicity helps with the dress

Findings for the dress

Me in the Jeanne Samary dress

The finished dress

The finished dress in a professional photoshoot

Accessories for the dress

At the Capturing the Mode talk

Jeanne Samary at the Pompeii to Paris talk

Jeanne Samary & her life

Jeanne Samary & the ballgown of 1878

Extant garments similar to the Jeanne Samary dress

Jeanne Samary as an author

Theresa in the Jeanne Samary at the Botanical Gardens  

Theresa in the Jeanne Samary with magnolias

Research and Resources:

Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion 1860-1940 (pattern very loosely based on the 1882-1883 dinner dress  pattern)

1878 ball gowns - train inspiration

Janet Arnold's 1882 dinner dress



  1. such a lovely dress you`ve made and what an inspiring portrait also. Shall look closely at the diary and enjoy myself. 🙂

  2. Wow!!! It is indeed a lovely dress! I wish I were half as great a seamstress as you!:) It’s amazing!!!
    Many Blessings,

  3. I love this dress. Beautiful pictures too. Oh, to know how to sew; it must be wonderful.

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