Saturday, February 02, 2013

A Followup to Diderot's Encyclopedie? You Bet: Meet M. Panckoucke and the Encyclopédie Méthodique

Was he a kook, Mr. Charles Joseph Panckoucke, thinking in 1781 that he could publish another giant French encyclopedia? Mais non, at least in the content department -- in the affairs of indexing, perhaps his plan was rather insufficiently cooked, but let's not be too hard on the man. Before he and his family were done, fifty years later, France was blessed with an estimated 166 1/2-tome Gargantua, under the title Encyclopédie Méthodique, explicating everything from fish to grammar to popular games to brocade patterns to -- lingerie.

The authors for each subject tended to both prolixity and exactitude, if these two characteristics can be considered simultaneously, which is a treat for us, all these years later. Further, technological advances since Diderot's time had exploded. In this encyclopedia, you can see the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and its giant machines. In our world of fabric, for instance, the encyclopedia describes enormous looms and spinning machines, alongside earlier technologies. It's abundantly clear why Napoleon would soon have a strong base on which to build his economic empire.

All of the trades and manufactured items that costumers might be interested are covered: buttonmaking, lacemaking, manifold types of passementerie, silk weaving, dressmaking, tailoring, feather-working, jewelry making, embroidery, fan-making, glove-making and other leatherwork... Are you dizzy yet?

Hey, Where Have We Seen That Before?

Oh, a side note: previous costume professionals have made use of this content before; it's just that many of us haven't been aware of it.

For example, do you recognize one of the figures in the half of  a plate below, which goes with Manufactures: Arts et Métiers, Tome 1, section title "Habillemens"? Where have you seen it before, pray tell? Does anyone recognize it?

How about this one, which I'll only name Plate 64? Anyone know where they've seen this one elsewhere?

No don't go fishing in Google for these: let's let your visual memories do the work.

Now, more seriously. Let's cover an example: the work of the lingere, makers of underclothing and suchlike.

La Lingere: an Example of Content We Love

There are those of us who have studied Diderot's Lingere plates and L'Art de la Lingere, hoping to understand better the making of women's underclothing, circa 1760s-1770s. M. Panckoucke has an update for us, circa about a decade later. Feast your eyes, my dears. Alas, there are fewer plates devoted to the subject in this second encyclopedia, but they are fascinating. By the way, M. Panckoucke employed M. Bertand, the same designer who had done the plates for the Diderot/D'Alembert effort, for the Encyclopédie Méthodique. Some of the drawings within the plates on first view look very similar, nay, identical, but there are changes.

The First Panckoucke Plate, Compared to Diderot

Panckoucke: Lingere, first plate

Diderot: Lingere, first plate

The first thing you likely notice is the scene of the inside of the shop. It looks pleasant, no? What about the clothing the workwomen are wearing? Why yes, those gowns are a bit newer than those in Diderot: fascinating to see what they chose to work in.

Look at the patterns for caps, lace, and sleeve ruffles, and for lace: mmmm. The cap in particular is later in style than the smaller caps shown in Diderot.

Look at the sewing stitches. The way they are drawn I think is a bit clearer than in the Diderot version, because the stitches are shown in progress.

The Second Panckoucke Plate, Compared to Diderot's Subsequent Plates

Aha: patterns for shifts, and a man's shirt and stock. Interestingly, they are the same as within Diderot, although drawn in white. Sadly, there are fewer garments covered in the Panckoucke plate than within Diderot.

Panckoucke: Lingere, second plate
Diderot: Lingere, second plate
Diderot, Lingere, third plate

Diderot, Lingere, fourth plate
In Panckoucke, the cross-stitch
plate is moved to one of the Brodeur
plates, I think.
Panckoucke's Plate Captions
Here is the original text:

Over the next posts, I will attempt a translation of these plate captions for those of you who desire it, and maybe, if time and inclination both coincide, perhaps I'll get to translating the main text. It's pretty fascinating and makes the plates come alive.

Later on, I might have a go at the dressmaking or feather-trade sections. We will see.

Because the Encyclopedia Méthodique is so enormous, far larger than that of Diderot, it's hard to find a complete collection. Further, because there appear to have been multiple editions or particular volumes, sometimes the content is split different ways.  I've spent quite a bit of time over the last days seeking out the text, the captions, and the plates to the portions of the encyclopedia I was interested in. It got to the point that I was trolling deep within Google Images, parsing out URLs to find potential sources, following up on citations. The volumes that concern me are the Manufactures: Arts et Metiers, the Arts et Métiers Mécaniques (both sections in multiple volumes), and the Recueil de Planches (first bunch of volumes).

I tended to find repeats in each collection located: for example, Hathitrust has indexed the plates (planches) from the Universidat Complutense de Madrid, while Gallica and what I think may be a Hungarian archive hold various volumes of the text.

A rough-and-ready index, with notes to myself, has been put on this blog's Research and Resources page. Perhaps it will get prettified at some point, perhaps not.

Want to know more about the history of Mr. Panckoucke's life's work? Visit the University of Cambridge, and read Encyclopédie méthodique (1732–1834) Acton.b.45.27–176; XXVI.1.1–178, 2.1–11.

Fun, wasn't that? I'm just thrilled with my new research resource, and the chance to practice some French!

By the way: my hiatus is over a little early. The surgery was a success, recovery is underway, and I am well enough to read and write, if not do much of any sewing.

Second "by the way": what got me thinking about this encyclopedia, other than an interest in anything French-encyclopedia-esque? Kendra Van Cleave's recently republished article, "Late 18th Century Skirt Supports: Bums, Rumps, & Culs" draws a quotation from the Encyclopedia Méthodique. Curious to see if the original source was online, I sniffed around, promptly fell down a veru long rabbit hole, and came up here :}


Cassidy said...

The dressmaking article in that one is very good! I translated it a while ago, and it treats on a lot of different types, turques, polonaises, levites, etc. I should get around to posting that ...

ZipZip said...

Dear Cassidy,

I figured you would be well acquainted with that resource already...and have been translating, too. Ooh, please do publish your work on the dressmaking article! We can sure use more details on the styles you mention.

Very best, Natalie