ProvenancePrivate Collection Arizona
Our painting invites the viewer into the intimate world of the charming Précieuses and élégantes from the turn of the 18th century France. Three female figures are gathered in an elegant salon, probably for an afternoon tea, to play games or discuss the latest gossip. Soulacroix masterly dressed the sitters in the latest shimmering silks and satins with unrivaled realism. In addition to being a beautiful picture, our painting is a precious historical document that sheds light on the evolution of fashion. In fact, the end of the 18th century marked a period of drastic shift that followed the discovery of the Greek and Roman civilizations. In fashion, this event translated into the popularization of a style based on an idealized version of ancient attires. For example, the traditional corset was abandoned to the benefit of the Neoclassical silhouette, which consisted of simple narrow clinging skirts. Women also favored pastel fabrics, natural makeup and bare arms over the extravagant toilettes that prevailed until the French Revolution.
If the women’s dresses in our painting are striking for their glowing satins and silks and intricate embroideries, the decor is itself as eye catching. Soulacroix really perfected the art of hyper-realism in his representation of the silk wall tapestry and the finely embroidered screen and sofa. The intimacy of the scene and the flamboyant decor make our enchanting painting all the more alluring. It is arguably one of the finest examples of Soulacroix’s famous “Silk and Satins” pictures.