Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Incroyable et Merveilleuse was a set of 33 engravings, published in 1814 , depicting extremely fashionable French men and women. They were engraved by George-Jacques Gatine after drawings by Horace Vernet and Louis-Marie Lanté. Whilst most fashion plates were on a small scale, designed to fit in women's magazines such as the Journal des Dames (which Gatine contributed to), the Incroyable et Merveilleuse plates were on a grander scale, designed for print collectors. Gatine's fashion engravings, particularly the Incroyable et Merveilleuse series, are now considered some of the finest records of French fashion of this period.
This engraving shows a Merveilleuse, or marvellous woman, in a white cotton percale walking-dress. This dress reflects the height of French fashion with its very high waist and ankle-length skirt. The hem and sleeves are elaborately puffed and further trimmed with multiple frills of embroidered muslin. The ruff is also composed of multiple frills. Whilst white cotton dresses were a fashionable wardrobe staple at this time, the sheer quantity of trimming on this dress makes it distinctive. Similary, whilst the bonnet has a small brim and is simply trimmed with ribbon, it is made extraordinary by encasing its already exaggerated poke in an sheer silk crepe puff.