This Site is about fashion history as shown in images of royal and aristocratic women from the Renaissance (ca. 1500) to the Belle Époque that came to abrupt end with the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
I endeavor to post the highest quality (usually, but not always, the largest) images I can find. I will clean up images to remove spots, scratches, sepia tone, other monotone colorations, etc, especially in parts of an image away from a woman or her dress. But I will clean up heavily marred faces and dresses if necessary and if I can do it. These changes within an image will be described if done with Photoshop (you can lie with Photoshop). I will also modify margins by cropping or re-coloration of border areas or by straightening tilted images and recoloring the edges of the new borders, but usually not state that I did it.
The site is broken into albums by chronological order approximately by century until the 19th century that, for the purposes of this Site, began in 1789 and ended in 1914. The 19th century had four identifiable fashion epochs. Each section begins with a page like this one that has a Table of Contents for the epoch. The Table of Contents has links to Albums with all of the images for the epoch. The albums contain individual discrete images as well as Subalbums that contain three or more images of the same person or persons wearing different dresses. Some Subalbums contain Albumettes for especially well-documented persons like French Empress Eugénie, Austrian Empress Elisabeth, or Queen Alexandra of Great Britain.
Dates listed are the date depicted in the image; the date the image was created by an artist or released may be different. The titles identify the person(s) and may not be the title used by the gallery or organization with the image.
Please click on images after they first appear - the image that posts after you click may be of better quality than the first one and it can be downloaded.
Italicized blue with an underline means a hyperlink to a visual Web site, another location on this Site, or e-mail. Magenta with underline means a link to a page, the major subdivision of this Site. Pages are also identified in the banner above every page and image on this Site; pages have Tables of Contents (except for the Notices and Definitions page).
NOTE: HISTORY MAY BE REPEATING ITSELF
In late 2015, the instability created in the Belle Époque by nationalism is emerging in Russia and China and has been been replaced by religion in the Islamic world and USA where fanatics seek to have a Battle of Armageddon. Some, not all, US Christians seek a Rapture where the good will be sucked out of their shoes into the bosom of The Lord (the one God known as Allah in the Islamic world). Daesh seem to have a similar goal. The war drums beat louder every day. Racist identity politics thrive in Europe and in the USA, where a strong candidate for President offers Hispanics as scapegoats. His likely opponent is unable to “think outside the box” of “neo-liberalism” that is neither new nor liberal. It isn’t gender, Elizabeth Warren can think outside of the neo-liberal box. The USA tries to lead the world, but steadfastly offers only Capitalism - not democracy or self-determination. So called “trade” pacts show the USA stands squarely for the global rich - not the rights of man or freedoms (other than the economic freedom treasured by the rich). Daesh offers Allah. We are either in or on the brink of global religious war. Which side has the better-sounding cause?
The Belle Époque ended on 28 June 1914. It may be that the end of the second gilded age will be dated to 11 September 2001, when a long religious war began in dead earnest.
I have wondered why the USA has not seen a second gilded age of dress today after about forty years of hearing non-stop propaganda from a controlled press and media that extols the glories of social inequality. I can think of two reasons - the élite understands that negative publicity and, worse, public scrutiny could follow ostentatious display. But far more importantly, élite women will not stand to be stuffed into corsets and frills and relegation to the role of ornamental hostesses. Imagine Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, or Hillary or Chelsea Clinton in crinolines - I can't. You don't need diamonds when you can rule companies with thousands of workers as undisputed monarchs, buy politicians, and pour tens of millions of your money into election time attack ads.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Table of Contents for the entire Site follows.
Page: Notices and Definitions
Album: New Content (images posted over the preceding three or so weeks)
Page with Table of Contents: Grand Ladies of the Farthingale Era
Page with Table of Contents: Grand Ladies of the Reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV - 1620 to 1715
Page with Table of Contents: Grand Ladies of the 1700s
Album: Reign of Louis XV
Album: Reign of Louis XV I
Page with Table of Contents: Grand Ladies of the Revolution, Empire, and Romantic Cycle - 1789 to 1836
Page with Table of Contents: Grand Ladies of the "Early" "Victorian" Era - 1837 to 1870
Page with Table of Contents: Grand Ladies of the Bustle Era
Page with Table of Contents: Grand Ladies of the Belle Époque