Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: Ludwig Aumont (Germany, early 19th century)



Figure 1.--This portrait of Johanna and Wilhelm Fischer was painted by Ludwig Aumont in 1838. We do not know which child is Ludwig. We initially thought it was the younger child, but not belive it is the older child on the left. Image used courtesy of La Couturière Parisienne

HBC has been unable to find any information on this minor German artist. We know he painted in the early 19th century as we had a portriat done in 1838. Germany of course did not exist in the early 19th century. We do not know what German state he was from. His art rather stadles the chasim between primitive/naive art and a great portratist. He is of interest because he is German, and we have realtively few German artists. In addition, his portrait gives us insight not only in Germany, but into the 1830s which is the decade before photography which HBC still has only limited information.

Source

La Couturière Parisienne website has noted an tunic-like outfit in a 1850s Belgian fashion magazine. We are not sure in which Belgian magazine it originally appeared. The original image can be seen on La Couturière Parisienne's Young Collection page.

The Artist

HBC has been unable to find any information on this minor German artist. Usually there are some references on the internet to even minor artists. Unfortunately we could find nothing at all on Aumont. The name of course suggests that he is German. His art rather stadles the chaism between primitive/naive art and a great portratist. Other HBC readers who are knowledgeable about art also are unfimilar with this artist. La Couturière Parisienne speculates that Aumont may have been a portraitist of merely local fame.

Museum

The portrait is in the collection of the Museum für hamburgische Geschichte in Hamburg Germany. This trans lates as the Museum for the History of Hamburg.

Chronology

We know he painted in the early 19th century as we had a portriat done in 1838. This portrait gives us insight not only in Germany, but into the 1830s which is the decade before photography which HBC still has only limited information. The 1830s is the last decade that we have to rely so heavily on paintings. The development of photography in the late 1840s means that by the 1840s we begin to get some actual photographic portraits.

Country


A unified Germany of course did not exist in the early 19th century. German was divided into a large number of German states. The most important were Prussia and Austria. but in the 1830s it was still not clear under which of these major powers German unification would tale place. We do not know what German state this portrait was from. Aumont is of interest because he is German and we have realtively few German artists. We also have only limited information about German boys' clothing in the early 19th century. This image is not disimilar from portraits we have seen in France and England, suggesting that there was considerable similarity in western Europe as to boys clothing. Of course this may be affected by the particular German state that the portrait is from. As the portrait is in a museum specializin in Hamburg history, either the artist or the depicted children or both are probably from Hamburg.

Children

The children are Johanna and Wilhelm Fischer. The problem is that we do not know which one is Johanna and which is Wilhelm. Ar first we thought that the child on the right was Wilhelm because if the older child was a boy he would have presumably been breeched. Also the pantaletes are very plain--one might have expected fancier pantaletes for a girl. That said, we were uneasy about this. The flower basket is a more common prop for a girl. In fact in the 1830s you would think that a book would have been a more appropriate prop for a boy. Also note that the older child has what looks to be black pants. We have never heard of black pantaletes. We had thought that the child on the right did not wear a blouse primarily becaue of age, but note that the child on the left wears a high-collared blouse that is similar to that worn by boys with skeleton suits. While it is often difficult to tell with younger children, the older child's face does look rather boyishband the younger child nore girlish. As a result, HBC is jnot positive who is who. The black pants are pantaletes lead us to believe that perhaps the older child is Wilhelm.

Age

Estimating the age of children in paintings and old photographs is always tricky. HBC would estimate that the younger child is about 5 years old and the older child is about 7 years old. The fact that the older child has learned to read is a factor here.

Clothing

The Fischer children wear several garments that are charateristic of the early 19th century.

Dresses

While it is difficult to make out the stylistic details in the black dress, the two dresses lokk or all extent and purpses to be idetical--except for the color. The two most prominent features are the puffed sleves and the realtively low cut neckline. The hem extends beyond the knees. Note that the dresses or no longer as simple as the Empire dresses of the 1800s, but still do not have the elaborate styling that began to become increasingly common at mid-century. Also notice that the children wear the exact same dress styles--there was not differences in the dress worn by the boy and girl.


Figure 2.--This English boy was painted with his sister in the early 19th century by an unidentified author. Note the similarity of the boy's blouse collar with the blouse in Aumont's painting above. Note that the girl does not wear a blouse. Notice that as in the Aumont portrait that these children also have identical short hair cuts.

Blouse

The older child wears a high-collared white blouse with the black dress. We have noted boys commonly wearing blouses with skeleton suits. The blouses were often open collared at the turn of the 19th century, but by the 1820s the colsed collared style began to become more common. Mant of these skeleton suit blouses look very similar to the blouse that the older Fischer child is wearing. We have not, however, noted girls wearing these blouses in the early 19th century.

Pantaletes

Pantaletes in the early 19th century were worn by both boys and girls. They were almost always white or some off-white shade. HBC has never seen black or bright colored pantaletes. La Couturière Parisienne reports, "you rarely ever get to see what women wore underneath. Different from children's pantalettes, women's were strictly underwear, not meant to be seen. Since the Victorians were obsessed with cleanliness, underwear had to be white. I've never seen any piece of underwear, extant or otherwise, that was not white. except corsets." La Couturière Parisienne adds, "Maybe they didn't count as strictly as underwear because of their relative visibility? Just a thought. But I have yet to see non-white pantalettes." This certainly suggests to HBC that the older child on the left is almost certainly Wilhelm and he is wearing pants rather than pantaletes.

Pants

The older child appears to be wearing black pants or trousers. The black color makes it difficult to make out detail. The pants rather than the white oantaletes strongly suggest that Wilhelm is the older child.

Hair Styles

Both Fischer children wear virtaully identical hair styles. The older child has sideburns thyat extend down further than those of the younger child.

Cordinated Outfits

One interesting aspect of the Aumont painting is that the children wear identical dresses although in different colors. There outfits are differentiated by the blouse and pants/pantaletes. It is interesting, howver, that the outfits have been coordinated. By the late-19th century, identical or coordinated brother-sister outfits usually involved an older sister and younger brother. In the case of the Fischer children it appaers to be an older brother and younger sister. We do not have a lot of information on such coordinated outfits during the early-19th century or in Germany.

La Couturière Parisienne Website

The image here comes from a wonderful European costume website. HBC has received many requests for readers about women's and girl's clothing. We find ourselves unable to handle the information we have gathered on boys clothing, so this will not be possible. Although we include many family images showing what contemporary girls and women were wearing. La Couturière Parisienne Website has a wonderful collection of women's and girl's fashions over a wide historical period. HBC on its pages tends to enlarge images so that stylistic details can be examined and to help the pages load faster. We know that some viewers would prefer tonsee the sn smaller, clearer images. These are avilable in the La Couturière Parisienne website.







Christopher Wagner





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Created: Augus 10, 2001
Last updated: August 18, 2001