Costume

Whether in the highly stylized aesthetic of the Parisian art deco designer George Barbier, pioneering anthropologies in voyage accounts, in maps, portraits, games or tools for teaching the young, this month’s themed list explores costume in all its forms. Often images were so striking they re-occur in accounts decades — or centuries later. The spirit behind many of the works is very much that of the Enlightenment — a tremendous curiosity about newly discovered parts of the world and about human behaviour, particularly for ritualised behavior. The late Professor Bernard Smith noted (here specifically of the work of St-Sauveur included in this list) ‘The engravings published in Cook’s Voyages provided new visual information about many previously unknown peoples, and greatly enlarged Europe’s knowledge of the family of man… as artists copied the engravings so they altered them still further in the direction of European pre-conceptions, the anthropological and ethnographic intentions of the originals being diverted increasingly to fulfil the demands of taste and the intrinsic needs of decoration.’ (European Vision and the South Pacific, p. 113).