Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fashioning distinction: construction of identity through dress and photography in nineteenth-century Paris
by Butler-Roberts, Jessica, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2017, 118; 10252491
Abstract (Summary)

In mid-nineteenth-century Paris those associated with the intellectual and artistic sectors used distinction in dress as a defining characteristic in the creation of their social image and identity. With the growing bourgeois masses due to the vast expansion and modernization of the city, distinction became the way in which one could separate from the crowd to emerge as an individual. This notion grew out of two specific factions: the awareness of dress as an outward reflection of the self, and the newly developed medium of photography as a tool for capturing one’s likeness. This thesis will trace the utilization of these concepts by examining Nadar’s portraits of Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, and Sarah Bernhardt, as well as Countess de Castiglione’s collaborative portrait work with the photographer Pierre-Louise Pierson.

Baudelaire and Gautier, both prolific poets and art critics, were some of the first to bring about critical discourse on the distinction of clothing, as well as the importance of inserting modern dress into art. Both men implemented these methods when making their individual choices for representation, with Gautier often presenting himself far outside the sartorial norm. While most women of Parisian society abided by strict moral rules of dressing, Bernhardt and Castiglione instead challenged these norms and used dress to represent themselves as individuals apart from family or a husband. More than solely focusing on everyday dress, this thesis will concentrate on the utilization of distinction in their public image captured through photography.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Simms, Matthew
Commitee: Botkin, Marie, Proctor-Tiffany, Mariah
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Art History
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 56/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Fashion, Art history
Keywords: Baudelaire, Charles, Bernhardt, Sarah, Castiglione, Countess de, Distinction, Gautier, Théophile, Nadar
Publication Number: 10252491
ISBN: 978-1-369-53343-9
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