The construction of French folklore

The construction of French folklore

  • Women in costume

    LALAISSE François-Hippolyte (1812 - 1884)

  • Women of Plougastel.

    LALAISSE François-Hippolyte (1812 - 1884)

  • Paludière

    LALAISSE François-Hippolyte (1812 - 1884)

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Title: Women in costume

Author : LALAISSE François-Hippolyte (1812 - 1884)

Creation date : 1843

Date shown: 1843

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Album Lalaisse (Brittany, surroundings of Auray) .Watercolor

Storage place: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J. Schormans

Picture reference: 81DE593 / 52.76.1.35

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J. Schormans

To close

Title: Women of Plougastel.

Author : LALAISSE François-Hippolyte (1812 - 1884)

Creation date : 1843

Date shown: 1843

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Album Lalaisse (Brittany) .Watercolor

Storage place: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J. Schormans

Picture reference: 81DE534 / 52.76.1.132

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J. Schormans

To close

Title: Paludière

Author : LALAISSE François-Hippolyte (1812 - 1884)

Creation date : 1843

Date shown: 1843

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Lalaisse Album (Loire Atlantique, Escoublac) .Watercolor

Storage place: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J. Schormans

Picture reference: 81DE683 / 52.76.1.9

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J. Schormans

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

These four drawings are examples of the great interest in local traditional costumes that appeared in Europe in the first half of the 19th century.e century.

From 1829, the Nantes publisher Charpentier launched Costume suites, sold as deliveries and by subscription. Lalaisse publishes a Armorican gallery (1845-1846), Nantes and the Loire-Inferieure (1850-1851) and Contemporary Brittany (1864).

Image Analysis

The costumes represented are supposed to be of traditional popular use: ancillary elements (baskets on the arms of women, animals) are sketched to attest to this rural affiliation. However, the characters are not located in a village landscape or setting. The models in the costume books are fashion prints, intended to inspire seamstresses and tailors. The characters are seen from several angles, which make it possible to show the different parts of the costumes. Much attention is paid to headgear: female headdresses, male hats. Handwritten indications specify this or that element. These drawings, treated in watercolor, aim to establish a geographical codification of Breton costumes, according to the municipalities or cantons.

Do these costumes drawn "from nature" correspond to the clothes actually worn by Breton peasants in the middle of the 19th century?e century? The answer is uncertain. Observers for a long time paid little attention to popular clothes, and early 19th century travelerse century note that clothing traditions have generally given way to Parisian fashion. In fact, a few decades after their observed and deplored disappearance, traditional costumes arouse a new fashion. Those which appear in these series are in any case beautiful and richly colored. They correspond well to the new image of the peasantry which developed throughout the XIXe century. The peasants are no longer seen as beggars, miserable and dangerous, but as peaceful, hard-working individuals with a rich and authentic culture. Not only popular costumes, but also festivals, customs and rural customs are described and valued. Genre painting, moreover, from the middle of the century, multiplied the picturesque scenes of festivals (in Brittany, particularly pardons) and peasant interiors, where typical costumes were in the spotlight. Conversely, realistic painting, which shows peasants struggling or at work, represents them with dull clothes and without any originality.

Are the clothes designed by Lalaisse typical of a locality, as the titles suggest? And if so, what are the possible variations (we assume that not all women dress identically)? Again, the answer is uncertain. Lalaisse, nor his counterparts, did not specify how he chose his models.

Interpretation

The costume books cannot be used as true illustrations of the popular clothing actually worn at the beginning of the 19th century.e century. On the other hand, they have been a source of inspiration for many emblematic representations of the Province. In this sense, they were at the origin of specific practices.

While the development of trade, urbanization, the textile industry, led to a homogenization of clothing uses on the national territory, the peasant (especially the peasant woman) in costume has become the most immediately visible icon of a region. . Tourism advertising, that of food or even industrial products, has widely used them. Local costumes, strictly codified, have become de rigueur in all festivities (folk groups, public ceremonies). On the occasion of local or private celebrations, wedding photos, these clothes were worn with pride. A double reference system has also been developed with the creation of a "regional costume" which is a sort of synthesis of the different local costumes. The high white lace headdress is characteristic of Breton costume, just as the large black ribbon headdress symbolizes the Alsatian.

  • Brittany
  • costumes
  • folklore
  • peasants
  • regionalism

Bibliography

Jean CUISENIER, Denise DELOUCHE, A sketchbook and its future: François-Hippolyte Lalaisse and Brittany, Brest, Paris, Éditions de la Cité, 1985.

Jocelyne GEORGE, Paris-Province, from the Revolution to globalization, Paris, Fayard, 1998.

Frédéric MAGUET and Anne TRICAUD, Talk about provinces, images, costumes, catalog of the exhibition at the National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions in Paris (January 26 - December 26, 1994), Paris, coll. “Files from the National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions”, 1994.

Ségolène LE MEN, The French painted by themselves. Social panorama of the 19th century, catalog of the Orsay museum exhibition-file, Paris, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1993.

To cite this article

Anne-Marie THIESSE, "The construction of French folklore"


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