Bag, 1794

  • 1794
  • Openwork metal basket painted red, leaf green and gold; green silk taffeta bag; metal medallions painted on each side.
  • GAL1994.234. 1
  • Acquired by the City of Paris
  • Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

On one side of the medallion,  a girl opening a birdcage; on the other, a young man holding a medallion.

The use of the handbag hinges on the fullness of the clothing worn: the more ample the garment, the more hidden pockets it can include, rendering the bag superfluous. As a result bags were almost unknown in the 18th century, until the radical change of silhouette in 1795. The few surviving examples are mostly small work baskets. The bag on show here is probably part of a wedding gift, given that the medallions show a young man and a young woman. The girl is opening a birdcage: in the 18th century the open cage and the bird that has flown symbolised the loss of virginity.

Notice's author : Marie-Laure Gutton