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Costume Paintings and Pictures 
Fashion History

By Pauline Weston Thomas for


Costume Paintings and Pictures


 Visual Representations of Costume

Paintings are valuable as the wearers of costume are usually in a scenario from which a story can evolve. A study of costume in painting helps the student to gain knowledge of how dress was worn, the hang of the cloth and the assembly of accessories. They often also highlight a typical room setting, accessories, interests and mannerisms of the day. Paintings can give insight into the lifestyle of particular strata of society in a given era. Below is a list of galleries and museums that have examples related to costume. You may see paintings in these museums which can be added to your list. 

Please note this list was made in good faith some years ago.  Fashion-era cannot be responsible for display changes that may have occurred in these galleries etc. If you are travelling to see a particular picture it is your responsibility to check that the picture is available to view at the venue stated.

Make your own list and study especially Tissot, Winterhalter, Lepape and Sargant. Typical paintings which illustrate costume include the following:-

A Selection of Paintings Depicting Costume and held in London UK 


The Victoria and Albert Museum 120-122 0171 938 8500 


Early 19th century. Woman’s working dress.


Miss Mary Linwood. Early 19th century. Detail of sleeve.


Caroline of Brunswick 1798. Three quarter length portrait, informal dress.

Mr. and Mrs. William Hobson of Markfield. Late 1700s. Two Portraits.


Queen Victoria in her coronation robes. 1838. Gold brocade robe.


The opening of The Great Exhibition 1851.  

Male and female and children’s formal dress. Full portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.



The Victoria and Albert Museum 8



The Hay Field 1870-1880. Women’s Aesthetic dress.


Jealousy and Flirtation. 1874. Country dress. Corset detail.


The Sailing Match. Mid 19th century. Detail of bonnet. Women’s and children’s dress.


The Window Seat. 1861. Detail of female’s sleeve,

Helen Euphoosyne Ionides. 1881. Portrait. Detail of hat.

Zoë Ionides.1881. Half portrait. Detail of hat


A Village Choir. 1847. Charity children and country folk.


The Victoria and Albert Museum 57a

Interesting miniatures.

The Victoria and Albert Museum 100-101 

Interesting C19th Dress Fabrics.

The Courtauld Institute Galleries


Queen Charlotte at Frogmore. 1796.  Full length portrait showing details of embroidery and lace patterns, jewellery and accessories.


Two dancers on the stage. 1874. Ballet costume.


A Bar at The Folies Bergere. 1880s. Serving Barmaid.


La Loge. 1874. Theatre scene with portraits of man and woman in evening dress. Details of jewellery.


Jane Avril at the entrance of the Moulin Rouge. Late 19th century. Outdoor dress and accessories.



The Wallace Collection

There is a fine collection of miniatures from the 18th and 19th centuries. These are useful for the study of necklines, Jewellery and hair ornament. 

One significant painting illustrating court dress is Schopin’s The Divorce of the Empress Josephine from 1809. 


The whole collection is catalogued for on line viewing.

The Tate Gallery

In many 19th century and early 20th century paintings the sitters are wearing artistic dress peculiar to themselves.  


French interior. 1905-7. Maid.


The Boulevard de Clichy Under Snow. 1876. Men and women outdoors.


Woman Seated On A Bench. 1874. Portrait with accessories.


The Pork Butcher. 1883.  Full length portrait of woman in working dress.

The Little Country Maid. 1882. Full  portrait of woman in working dress.


The National Portrait Gallery

This collection is particularly useful for the study of headdresses, necklines, jewellery and posture. Too many to list, but do combine a visit to the portrait gallery with one to the National Gallery.

The National Gallery Portrait Rooms - Rooms 40, 44, 45, 46




Princess Pauline Metternick. Mid 19th century. Half-length portrait in day dress. La Toilette. Mid Late 19th century. Maid’s dress.


Madame Moitessier. 1856. Three quarter length portrait in formal dress. Interesting accessories, jewellery and textile details.


Hermine Gallia. 1904. Full portrait in formal dress. Appliquéd decoration.


Eva Gonzales.  1870. Full length portrait of informal dress.


Plage de Trouville. Late 19th century. Beach scene with details of ladies’ hats in the foreground.


Les Parapluies. 1879.  Street scene with children and workroom girl.

La Premiere Sortie. 1880. Theatre scene with woman and head dress.


Baignard Asniers. 1883-4. Famous bathing scene with male bathing dress and accessories for informal day dress.


Le Dejeneur a Vileneuve. Early 20th century. Garden scene with male and female formal dress. Children’s dress.



By its very nature this information is constantly changing. can take no responsibility for any loss you may incur as a result of using the information here.

This page was based on information from a handout from an ex colleague. Thank you Deirdre.

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About looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era.  Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear.  These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.Fashion History can take no responsibility for any information on the site which may cause you error, loss or costs incurred from use of the information and links either directly or indirectly.  This site is owned, designed, written and developed by author: Pauline Thomas and Guy Thomas. This site is designed to be viewed in 1024 X 768 or higher.

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