'We do not fear to reveal our Gallery of Fashion and Taste to the eye of the nation...'
This is what the compilers of the Kabinet van Mode en Smaak (Gallery of Fashion and Taste) stated in the preface of their periodical. Even though exuberant splendour and luxury could be considered as dangerous and harmful for a country like the Netherlands, whose economy, industry, and trade prospered on the foundations of diligence and frugality. The Gallery was an 18th-century periodical that revealed the latest trends in fashion, both in the Netherlands and abroad, and discussed historical costumes. Expertise in fashion could be considered as a useful, even necessary, contribution to our knowledge of history. Besides, the desire for a change in society brought about the change in fashion, which "when she does not exceed the boundaries of propriety, can provide an ample source of riches and prosperity."
The images show two examples of national costumes; a woman from Friesland wearing a typical hat named 'strookap' and a lady wearing a so-called 'vlieger' (kite). This name does not refer to her provocative cleavage, but to the overcoat she is wearing, which takes it's name from the movement it makes in the wind.
The complete Gallery was made available digitally mid 2010 on the website Early Dutch Books Online. This website will also show 10.000 other Dutch titles from the years 1781-1800. Because of the application of OCR (Optical Character Recognition), the 2 million pages will also be searchable at word level. The project focuses on the period 1781-1800, because in these years most books were printed in a roman font, that is well suited for OCR application. Another reason is that this period is especially interesting historically. After all, these are the years of the Batavian Republic, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Dutch Prints Online is a cooperation of the University libraries of Amsterdam (UBA) and Leiden (UBL) and the National Library of the Netherlands (KB).
Blog post by guest authors Saskia van Bavel en Mirjam Raaphorst, Early Dutch Books Online