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