Sophie Crouzet, the sitter in this portrait, is a first cousin of the artist.
The sitter's dress deliberately evokes ancient Roman costume. However, the white muslin and straightforward cut also derives from earlier English fashions that favored simplicity in contrast to the elaborate, colorful clothing favored earlier in the 1700s. The transparency of her dress also carries political and cultural meaning: during the French Revolution in 1789, costume began to signify political allegiance, a sign of the character of the person who wore it. For women, transparency became increasingly literal, as in the sheer fabric worn by Crouzet, who came from a family of active revolutionaries.
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