Portrait of the week - Lady with a fan

Lady with a fan, by Jules-Charles Aviat (1898)
Currently at Gavin Graham Gallery, London.

Both the hair-do and the dress of this dark-haired lady is typical of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The hair is gathered into a bun-like shape at the top pf the head. Perhaps not the most elegant of coiffures, but very typical - no doubt about that.

The late 19th century had a special love for frilly things in light colours. Even grown-ups could be dressed up in lace-covered white dresses that we perhaps would more associate with children. Here the dress is completed with a pink sash.

The model of the dress on the other hand is clearly meant for an adult. This is most obvious by the slim waist that must have taken a corset to achieve (corsets were very common at the time, but not worn by everyone all the time).

It is also obviously a summer-dress, both obvious by the colour and the shape of the dress. It is not so complicated in form and pattern as the more prestigious dresses of the time - and we have no reason to suspect that the unknown lady on this picture is of anything but good (and wealthy) family.

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