Fashion Watercolour I
This elegant watercolour represents a Belle Époque lady at the turn of the 20th century. The figure wears a fashionable white dress, accentuated by dark blue stripes and a hint of light purple. The blue is echoed in the eyeliner and eyeshadow worn by the lady bringing to the fore her facial features. She sports red lipstick and a pair of beauty patches mark either side of her face. At this time, lightly corseted dresses featuring minimal boning and more elastic materials with the aim of slimming the figure gained popularity. The stiffly corseted, heavy-bosomed silhouettes were done away with during this marvellous fashion renaissance. The French called this epoch the most luxurious in fashion clothing and style. To complement the fashionable dresses, most impressionable young ladies exhibited a collection of accessories and props. Here, the woman wears a pretty hat, a sophisticated pair of white gloves, and a soft feathered scarf. Moreover, she carries a white umbrella to further underline her coordinated and modish attire. By making use of delicate and swift contour lines, the artist has captured the essence of this ravishing and stylish Belle Époque lady. This artwork was made by an unknown Czech artist and was framed at a later date. Another watercolour by the same creator – depicting Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715) – is also for sale.
At this time in French history, Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859–1935), a French artillery officer of Jewish ancestry, was exiled as a political prisoner to the penal colony of Cayenne, also known as Devil’s Island in French Guiana. In 1894, Dreyfus was wrongfully accused on charges of treason. The following year, he was summarily convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Alfred Dreyfus was the most famous prisoner to endure the harsh tropical climate and detainee conditions on the infamous island during the 19th century. In July 1906, Dreyfus was exonerated by a military commission and returned to France.