woman leaning on table looking down with garment belted below exposed breasts

Young Woman in Classical Dress, Study for the Month "Thermidor", c. 1804-1805

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In France in the 1790s, the Republicans used more than the guillotine to do away with the ancien régime. They went so far as to invent a new system of measures (the metric system), a new dress code, a new system of time (100-second minutes, 100-minute hours, 10-hour days), and a new calendar.

Rejecting the Gregorian calendar inherited from the Roman Catholic Church, which structured the very fabric of life around religious observances and feast days, the Republicans decided to mark the days in a more rational, secular way. Their new calendar maintained the twelve-month year but introduced three-week months and ten-day weeks (décades). The extended week was the least popular measure, and not just with the church. A day of rest every seven days, not ten, was sacred to the working class, too.

This study belongs to a series of designs by Louis Lafitte for a printed calendar in which he invented a new iconography for the months. The noble bathing woman represents Thermidor, France’s hottest month (late July to late August). Napoleon would abolish the unpopular Republican calendar in 1806, just a year or two after Lafitte produced this drawing.

Details
Title
Young Woman in Classical Dress, Study for the Month "Thermidor"
Artist Life
1770 - 1837
Role
Artist
Accession Number
72.94
Provenance
Sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, December 3, 1969, no. 7, as by Gérard, for Fr 2,700; [Walter Goetz, Pintura Establishment, Vaduz, Liechtenstein, until 1972; sold for $2,000 to MIA]
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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woman leaning on table looking down with garment belted below exposed breasts