Something From The Musee d’Orsay…

In our recent visit to the Musee d’Orsay, we came across this striking portrait:

Albert Bartholomé, In the Conservatory (Madame Bartholomé), c. 1881

The circumstances behind In the Conservatory by Albert Bartholomé are tragic. Painted in 1881, the artist depicted his wife Prospérie de Fleury (nee Madame Bartholomé) who sadly died in 1887, just six years after this portrait was executed. However, this portrait is also noteworthy in that the cotton day dress that Madame Bartholomé is wearing in the portrait survives to this day. Below are some pictures of the dress:

Day Dress c. 1881 Madame Bartholomé

Here’s a closer view that shows off the details:

Day Dress c. 1881 Madame Bartholomé

Close-Up View

Day Dress c. 1881 Madame Bartholomé

Rear View

This dress definitely reads Mid-Bustle Era with the cuirass bodice and relatively cylindrical profile; there is a train and bustle present but it’s relatively restrained with the train spreading out rather than flowing towards the rear. The combination of colors and the pleating effect are amazing and they are just as striking “live” as well as in the portrait. The bodice is constructed of a white cotton with purple polka dots. On the other hand, the sleeves consists of white cotton with broad purple vertical stripes. The skirt is pleated such that there are white under-folds while purple dominates on the outside- definitely a unique effect. What’s especially nice is that we have both the portrait and the subject’s dress so we can compare them; it’s rare that you get this situation. Unfortunately, the dress was not on display but still, it was nice to be able to at least view the portrait up close and in person. Hopefully, someday we’ll be able to view the dress… 🙂

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