We have had some difficulty in working with French images as I have found it sometimes difficult to identify the gender of the children. Of course this is in part a reflection of French children's fashions when the gender of the child is not clearly defined. Available images of French children show somewhat
fancier styles than worn by boys in many other countries. Italian boys also sometimes wore famvy styles, but boys in most other countries did not. Fashions in most other countries were not as fancy and the differences between gender were much more clearly defined. Images from the 19th or earlier centuries are often difficult to identify. Normally 20th Century images are much easier to identify. But in the case of France even 20th century images are difficult to identify. Indicators such as longish hair, strap shoes, and white knee socks do not help greatly in France as both boys and girls might wear them.
We are not sure if the boy on this French New Years postcard is a boy or girl (figure 1). It is diificult to tell with any certainty. The cap and long hair look rather girlish. The top of the garment looks rather like a suit jacket, but the bottom more like a dress skirt. We are not at all sure about the fur trim. The knee socks are unusual. The shoes are boyish looking.
An HBC contributor has sent us an in image that we do not fully understand. She tells us, "Here we have an unusual studio photo portrait. We don't know the place, but the source is in French and it indicates possibly the 1870s." We have no idea about the country, but France seems resonable. The set looks to us more like a 1860s image, but the early 70s is certainly possible. The child must be a boy despite the long hair. While younger boys in the 19th century might wear dresses, girls did not wear pants of any kind except pantalettes. The top of the garment here looks like a dress bodice, but the bottom before the tight waist is rather roomy pants that narrow down to trim knee pants. The child is barefoot, which is very unusual in French 19th century photography, except when the portsit is mean to create a bucolic look. And the garment here seems a rather formal one. French boys are virtually never pictured barefoot in formal dress. The studio set is also unusual. It looks like a constructionn site. We have never seen anything like it.
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