Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College

The Human Comedy: Chronicles of 19th-Century France

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Costume d'Humann

Costume d'Humann

Paul Gavarni (French, 1804–1866) Costume d'Humann (Man's Suit by Humann), 1842 Lithograph Gift of Eugene L. Garbaty, 1951.79.209

Sulpice Guillaume Chevallier, or Gavarni, made a name for himself as the principal illustrator for the fashion magazine La Mode. Gavarni revolutionized fashion drawing, produc-ing figures that were not just stiff, generic mannequins, but highly individualized portraits conveying through facial ex-pression, pose, and physical gesture, a charm and even wit hitherto lacking in fashion plates. Gavarni was himself one of the most elegant men of his day, a sharp dresser and social charmer described by one contemporary as the “dandy par excellence.” He traveled in the most elevated circles of high society and frequented the hot spots of ur-ban nightlife, from theaters and cafés to all-night masked balls, for which he designed costumes. The famous Pari-sian tailor Humann commissioned Gavarni not only to draw his impeccable men’s suits for the fashion press, but also to wear them out on the town as advertisements to fellow dandys. In return, he provided the artist with invaluable ad-vice for his own fashion designs and for his signature drawings.