Unattributed. "Dandy's Toilette. Shaving."
Published by J. Le Petit, 20 Capel St., Dublin. N.d. 9 3/4 x 7 1/2. Engraving. Hand color. Very good condition.
The "Dandy" in life, literature and illustration emerged late in the eighteenth century in the person of George Bryan "Beau" Brummel (1778-1840). At Eton and at Oriel College, Oxford, he cultivated a persona of dress and wit, then became a crony of the Prince of Wales (later King George IV). Receiving wealth through inheritance, he capitalized on money, the Prince's friendship and his own good taste in dress to become the recognized arbiter of fashion among the high society of the day.
As Fabienne Fong Yan states in her 2009-2010 Sorbonne paper: The Figure of the Dandy in his relationship to Fashion and Distinction in 19th century literature, "Sociologists who are interested in fashion agree on the fact that Beau Brummell was the first one to grant clothes a personal and individualistic meaning. Whereas clothes used to indicate a professional or social category until the end of the 18th century, the Dandy made them representative of himself and the mirror of his personality."
As the Prince became tired of his biting "wit" and Brummell's extravagance and gambling debts reduced his circumstances and caused him to flee to France to avoid his creditors, the "Dandy" became a subject of satire and caricature.
Little is known of J. Le Petit of Dublin's Canal Street or M. Le Petit on Anglesea Street. J. Le Petit appears to have arrived in Dublin from London sometime around 1801 and established a successful publishing and print selling business in the city. He mainly dealt in conventional forms of art, such as landscapes, pastoral scenes and decorative ephemera but was responsible for a handful of caricatures, among which were a Dandy's Toilette series which included this print. The books on the Dandy's shelf include tomes about the arts of love ("Ovid," "Cupid" and "'Fany' Hill") plus the Gothic novel "The Monk." All in all, fine social satire.