For our inaugural post, may we present:
Published in the mid-1820s, Musée des Dames et des Demoiselles includes six small books covered in lavender paper and packed together in a blue and gilt paper gift box. Each book covers a different area of science appropriate for delicate demoiselles: fruit, flowers, minerals, butterflies, insects, and birds. Along with a hand-colored paper onlay on each cover, each book includes a stipple-engraved hand-colored frontispiece.
Books like these encouraged women to explore the natural world. The three women pictured on the box are in motion, interacting with various items discussed in the books. (Notice, too, that the “natural” items pictured are all confined and domesticated – the birds in cages, the trees in planters, and even the butterfly about to be caught – leaving this realm of nature somewhat less wild for the “gentler” sex.)
Our copies look as if their particular demoiselle was perhaps uninterested in nature – but we were delighted to find how new they looked!
(Click on the images to magnify them.)
*FC8.A100.825m. Purchased with the Andrew Oliver Book Fund and the Melvin R. Seiden Houghton Library Book Fund.
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