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Culture and Costume

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Drawn by Benjamin Roubaud
Lithograph by Janet-Lange
From Galerie Royale de Costumes
Paris: Aubert, 1842-1848

The invention of lithography at the end of the eighteenth century led to its widespread use by publishers beginning in the 1830s. Aubert, in Paris, was one of many nineteenth-century firms employing this media to supply an eager public with inexpensive images of travels, fashions, politics and topical events. A print from 1833 shows the storefront of Aubert Editeur surrounded by men and women viewing the crowded arrangement of images on display. Aubert published magazines as well as albums of individual prints related by theme. Fashion illustrations and costumes from around the world were part of his repertoire. This group of prints is from two of the firm's publications, Musée Cosmopolite and Galerie Royale de Costumes.

Published from 1842 to 1848, Galerie Royale de Costumes included over 250 lithographs of people wearing regional dress. Musée Cosmopolite was published from 1850 to 1863 and included 468 engravings of costumes from North Africa, Russia, America and various European countries. Each image was sold separately and sheets from different regions were put together into albums without any accompanying text. These publications served as encyclopedic albums of costume; the illustrations of Jews account for only a small fraction of the peoples represented. The images of Algerian Jews present the characteristic features of their dress, particularly women's and children's headdresses, within the context of established fashion illustration poses. Stylistically these prints differ little from the illustrations of fashionable Parisian clothes that Aubert was also publishing at the same time.

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