A Fashionable Frenchwoman
Paris became a trendsetting center in the 1700s. Painters such as Jean-François de Troy were hired to paint pictures of people wearing the latest hairstyles and hottest fashions.
In the painting shown here, the woman in the center is getting ready to go out for the evening. She is surrounded by servants and friends.
The woman is dressed in a brocade gown protected by a flowing robe, a popular fashion item of the time. The robe kept makeup and powder from ruining her ball gown.
She twists around in her chair to chat excitedly with her friends as a maid puts the finishing touches on her hair. The friends lean in to listen breathlessly to what she is saying—maybe some gossip.
Two people in the background are whispering together as if they are putting a secret plan in place. We can almost feel the excitement in the air.
All these people are getting ready to go somewhere. But where?
The artist gives us a clue. The painting is titled Before the Ball, and the man on the far right who is leaning over the back of the chair holds a mask with tassels.
They must be going to a masked ball!