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Watteau’s ‘L’enseigne de garsaint’

L’enseigne de Garsaint:

we’ve used this painting a few times – a) as an example of the almost Victorian shape of the sweeping round hoop or Bell Hoop and the round full skirts it was making fashionable but also for the details in the man’s coat, the loose sack with it’s weird sleeve and the man’s shirt. So much out of one painting!

This is not a long and detailed page – we just wanted to be able to put this image up somewhere and as our knowledge of this early period of the 18th century grows then we can add to the details that we see here.

The Painting:

l'enseigne de garsaint by watteau, HandBound historical costume research, what the early georgians wore


What an amazing painting! According to good ‘Ol Wikipedia; it wasn’t just painted in 1720 but on the very first day of that year – 1st January 1720. we’ll put up some of the details in a bit but here you can see the early Sacks and how their pleats were incredibly loose and unset. You can see the round shape of fashion for the Bell hoop with the lady leaning at the counter and the lady in dark brown at the back looks to be in a Mantua. But, we’ll go into more details in a bit. We just wanted to put it up as a whole painting before we start.

Watteau -l'enseigne de garsaint -  1720 - HandBound



Lady in Pink:

– She is wearing an early from of the Sack Back gown – rightly called a Robe a la Francais as it originates in France.
– She wears it with a matching pettcoat – see the hem of her garment where you get a glimpse of her shoe!
– She wears a small Lappet cap with her Lappets piled up on the top.
– She wears no Neck Cloth but just a neat rim of about 1 1/2- 1 3/4″ wide frill from her shift or a tucker.
– The sack back part of the gown appears to be a separate outer robe as it doesn’t appear to have sleeves but a large arm hole where a possible undergown comes through with the sleeves ?????
– Is it snobby to say she is not wearing matching shoes!

Man Proffering a Hand:

– He wears a classic mans outfit for the period – various shades of brown and with the longer coat, the long and skirted waist coat and the fashionably small glimpse of the breeches.
– He also has his stockings rolled up over his breeches which is very fashionable for this part of the century.
– He wears a curly full wig – don’t ask us the name for it – we are useless with wigs!
– His shirt has a ruffled front.
– He also is wearing his waistcoat opened and only done up at the waist by a few buttons. This style was in fashion it appears for quite a while with many paintings going on into the 50’s with men dressing their waistcoats in this manner.

The 3 Other Men:

– The one by the wall wears a Tricorne! Has a more working man’s type of waistcoat – it being un-skirted and flat at the hem and also shorter. he too wears his partially done up but with a few more buttons fastened. Breeches look fairly baggy but this ties in with the fashion – he has dark stockings but so does the first man apparantly. he has a cane and also his coat is plainer and shorter.
– The man taking out the painting is in a full and voluminous sleeved shirt and breeches – no ruffles at the neck.
– man holding the Mirror looks to have a functioning cuff opening of a fairly neat looking sleeve and fuller looking coat. He appears to be wearing a turkish style of head-wear but we may have that wrong.

l'enseigne de garsaint by watteau, HandBound historical costume research, what the early georgians wore, images of early 1700s fashion

Kneeling Man:

– What beautiful and neat looking shoes he has – I know we only get to see the underside but in that sense you really get to see the shape of the shoe.
– he has a full skirted jacket with atleast 2 vents with pleats either side and CB vent that is flat – interesting! There is a button on the top of each side vent and a broad-ish placket on either side of the CB vent.
– His coat has pockets and has buttons running down the whole length of the CF opening. It also looks fairly neat in cut and his sleevs not too baggy but that end in a broad type of Wing Cuff with rounded ends.
– He carries a Tricorne hat under his arm.
– Wears Ruffles at his sleeve.
– His wig is similar to other main man but with more detail of how the back separates into two pig tail-type curls.

l'enseigne de garsaint by watteau, HandBound historical costume research, what the early georgians wore, images of early 1700s fashion

Seated Lady in Pink Stripe:

– Unusual bodice style of dress – this definitely needs more research as it’s details are kind of lost on us right this minute. It almost looks like she has the two robings but then something strange happens at the waist.
– Her shift sits high up above her dress and is flat – similar to others we’ve seen in this period.
– She’s wearing long pale coloured gloves and what looks like almost crimped ruffles which are very full but not overly deep in length.
– She has a twist of something at her neck – there are quite a few images of this kind of neck wear – often in lace or in a blue twist of what loks like Chenille trim.
– She wears a long black cloak.

l'enseigne de garsaint by watteau, HandBound historical costume research, what the early georgians wore, images of early 1700s fashion

Lady Behind the Counter:

– She wears what seems to be a similar dress as the other lady – same loose but broad sweeping fronts – it seems to have loose Robings to the gown.
– It’s a striped cloth with something different at the front. She wears a cap which we didn’t think came into fashion until the 1760s but here it is as bold as brass so perhaps we’re wrong. It’s a very light and crimped looking frilled cap with a ribbon and the back pinned up.
– She also wears a similar neck cloth – red/pink and more loosely twisted than the lady lounging opposite her. She wears a black something at her wrist.
– Her cuffs to the gown are loose in cut but pleated at the front. It is a Turn-back cuff and not a Wing Cuff as it is a complete circle and not like the man’s cuff who is kneeling on the floor, deeply intently looking at a painting.
– She wears her ruffles from her shift a little below her sleeve, gathered but not overly deep in length.

Man Standing Above her:

– He is fabulously dressed! He wears a grey coat with double buttons and button holes making their way down his CF.
-His coat is collarless and it’s sleeves have a kind of Wing Cuff/Boot Cuff finish to them – it must have a specific name but we as yet don’t know it! We’ve seen similar cuffs in the Museum of London but none of Cunnington’s descriptions of a Boot Cuff or our knowledge of a Wing Cuff match this exact sleeve ending.
– his Waistcoat is of patterned silk with pockets.
– His shirt is gathered into a plain band at the neck – close fitting to his neck.
– And apart from the cut of his Coat and Waistcoat, you can tell this is still the early 1700s as he has his sword at his side.
– His sleeves end in banded Ruffles and look gorgeous.