“1800 Doll” by Raphaël, 1949
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The doll by Raphaël represents the Merveilleuse style of the early 19th century. The Merveilleuse were the female counterpoint to the Incroyables, royalist sympathizers noted for their exaggerated style à la Grecque and anti-revolutionary ideals. Thérésa Tallien was at the forefront of this movement, becoming a fashion leader, along with Josephine de Beauharnais, of the French Directory. Tallien’s personal style was the model for the age. She famously arrived at the Paris Opera once wearing a sleeveless silk dress with no underwear. Though the masses did not adopt the extremity of Madame Tallien’s style, the paper-thin gowns with flesh-colored knitted undergarments were surely in imitation of her daring.