Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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“Aussi brillante que Vénus la belle Dorine s’occupe … sa robe est à la Marlborough …” François Louis Joseph Watteau, Gallerie des Modes, 1785; engraving on paper
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 44.1619; The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection
The description “à la Marlborough” is relatively frequent in eighteenth century fashion, compared to the others shown in this series, but it is usually applied to hats. According to Caroline Weber in Queen of Fashion, Marie Antoinette was obsessed with “Marlborough goes off to War,” a folk song that was sung to her son by his wet nurse, and “the Marlborough mode” was reflected across French fashion. A gown could be striped à la Marlborough, and a certain style of large hat was also given the name. It is difficult to define exactly what the term refers to in this fashion plate; the back seems to be somewhat unfitted, so perhaps it is something like a Lévite but with shorter sleeves.
I have a love-hate relationship with those giant late 18th century caps.