When we last saw the fashionable young Parisians of Le Supreme Bon Ton, they were swimming together with a vigorous freedom that seemed astonishing for 1810. Now the ladies and gentlemen are back on shore and dressed in their fashionable best, which, for the ladies, includes the new style of deep-brimmed hats. While the hats shown were doubtless exaggerated by this artist, the name given to the wearers ("the invisible ones") does imply that the wearer's face was well-hidden. Undaunted, the gentlemen seem determined to pursue the ladies inside their brims, and make the most of the privacy the hats provided – with clearly mixed results.
But while at first glance this print seems to be satirizing the fashionable headgear of the ladies, I believe the gentlemen, too, must be feeling the artist's sharpened barbs. Consider these amorous swains. Exactly how long must their necks be, that they'll be able to reach their ladies' lips for a kiss? And what misfortune has happened to their breeches? Over and over we read about the provocatively close-fitting breeches favored by young gentleman in this time period, and yet the ones these poor fellows are wearing are...not. 'Nuff said.
Except, of course, what's satirical sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, even in the land of the Bon Ton.
Above: Les invisibles en Tete-a-Tete, from the series Le Supreme Bon Ton, No. 16; artist unknown; published by Martinet, Paris, c. 1810-1815
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.