Opera Dresses, July 1806

La Belle Assemblée, July 1806.

“Opera and Drawing Room Full Dresses, 1806.”

The first ten months of this magazine (it began publication in February 1806) included only uncolored fashion prints. Starting with the November 1806 issue, the magazine came out in two formats: with uncoloured prints at 2s 6d per issue, or with hand-coloured prints at 3s 6d per issue. But then, I have volumes of this publication from 1807 and 1808 where each month has a colored print and an uncolored print. I suspect the more expensive issues were those with both colored and uncolored prints. By 1808, all fashion prints were hand colored.

I love these early uncolored prints. I actually think some of them, like this one, have more artistry, elegance, and delicacy than the early colored prints. Sometimes the subtlety of the engraving is lost, especially when the hand-coloring is clumsy or sloppy.

Though the title above the figures says these are Opera and Drawing Room Full Dresses, the text calls them both Opera Dresses.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“TWO OPERA DRESSES. The first figure represents a lady with a white muslin turban, ornamented in the front with gold and pearls; the hair smoothed over the forehead, and large curls resembling cork-screws hang on each side; the neck embellished with a fancy gold chain. A gown of white India muslin, sloped round the neck; short sleeves, ornamented with Turkish embroidery; a small mantlet round the shoulders; white silk gloves and shoes.

“The second figure represents a lady with her hair dressed à la Romaine, and ornamented with fancy combs. White muslin gown, with a long train behind, short in the front, tied round the waist with a silk cord and tassels in front; pearl neck-lace; white silk gloves and shoes.”

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