Making Decent; i.e. Broad-Bottomites Getting into the Grand Costume

A work made of hand-colored etching on cream wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of hand-colored etching on cream wove paper.


published February 20, 1806


James Gillray (English, 1756-1815)
published by Hannah Humphrey (English, c. 1745-1818)

About this artwork

As the current exhibition Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity demonstrates, women in the late 19th century were regularly defined by their attire. Clothing, makeup, and accessories frequently reflected not only a woman’s social status but also her character and morality. Scholar Justine De Young has observed of the period, “Dressing fashionably and in good taste thus became one of the central concerns of a bourgeois woman’s daily life, as not merely her appearance but also her reputation was at stake.” The same strict rules of public presentation did not necessarily apply, however, to the private, domestic sphere—as the images in this gallery illustrate. Shown here are women in the process of dressing or undressing; relaxing in their underclothes, nightgowns, or morning dress; or in the most private of moments: sleeping or reclining nude. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s print portfolio Elles most likely depicts prostitutes during the course of the day, but these prints could easily represent the interior life of any woman, as they illustrate common boudoir behaviors: the toilette, lounging in bed, grooming, and conversing with friends. Prints by Childe Hassam, Edvard Munch, James McNeill Whistler, and Paul Gavarni show women wearing peignoirs or dressing gowns. These garments were typically worn by upper class women while they went about their regular morning activities: attending to the servants or the children, catching up on reading and correspondence, and other routine household concerns.

Currently Off View

Prints and Drawings


James Gillray


Making Decent; i.e. Broad-Bottomites Getting into the Grand Costume






Hand-colored etching on cream wove paper


231 × 342 mm (image); 245 × 350 mm (plate); 275 × 388 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

Gift of Thomas F. Furness in memory of William McCallin McKee

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions