1798 Madame Hamelin by Andrea Appiani (Musee Carnavalet, Paris)

Madame Hamelin was an associate of Josephine de Beauharnais. The following is excerpted from pp. 347-348 of The Affairs of Women - A Modern Miscellany Compiled, with Commentary by Robert Bingham (Currawong Publishing, Sydney 1969), "When Josephine's creole friend, Madame Hamelin, undertook a walk from the Luxembourg to the Chaps Elysees in a costume that left her naked to the waist, she was followed by a jeering mob.

Ernest John Knapton, The Empress Josephine

Truly there is nothing new under the sun, except that in a few great cities today there woulde be jeering (though perhaps leering) mobs follow a modern Madame Hamelin. Ernest Knapton, in his biography of the Empress, gives an entertaining description of the new feminine society in the period of the Convention and Directory in revolutionary France. The women who succeeded the aristocrats of 'good society' were known as les Merveilleuses (the 'Marvelous Ones who 'read little except erotic romances and talked little except scandal.' They soon realized that that their advantageous disposition could be expressed in 'antique Greek' costumes of see-through fabrics. After the sans-culottes now came the sans-chemises. The elements of this costume were a classic diadem on the head, a clinging, gauzelike robe having a belt fastened with large cameos, a very light cashmere shawl, sandals fitted to bare feet, and toes covered with rings. The attire underwent increasingly daring modifications, all intended much less to cover than reveal the charms of nature..."

This 1798 portrait of Josephine's associate Madame Hamelin shows more simple dress where the ornamentation is found in the wrap, not the dress.

Keywords:  1798, Appiani, long curly coiffure, scoop neckline, close skirt, wrap  

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