Clothing in Brittany

Clothing in Brittany

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Title: Rags market in Finistère.

Author : TRAYER Jean-Baptiste Jules (1824 - 1908)

Creation date : 1886

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 181 - Width 263

Technique and other indications: Purchased from the artist in 1892 with state aid Oil on canvas

Storage location: Quimper Museum of Fine Arts website

Contact copyright: © Museum of Fine Arts of Quimper

Rags market in Finistère.

© Museum of Fine Arts of Quimper

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Fairs represent an important moment in the daily life of the countryside. BREKILIEN, Daily life of peasants in Brittany in the 19th century, Hachette, 1966, p. What about rural markets and clothing?

Image Analysis

The painting by J.-B. Trayer, a painter well forgotten today, introduces us to the heart of a rag market in Brittany at the end of the 19th century. With a simple style, a certain academicism, and a relatively clear palette, it represents a people of women of all ages busy buying pieces of cloth and rags, on the fringes of the market which can be distinguished from the other stalls below. Some inspect the merchandise, others discuss the price, others just listen. In this respect, it is striking to note the contrast between the austere dress of these Breton women - thick black dress, white collar and headdress - and the red, light blue, yellow, pink fabrics that they negotiate. This table is however a little misleading, because it makes us forget that men also attend fairs; it is they, in particular, who take care of the acquisition of the animals.


Trayer's painting indicates a certain cultural and economic openness: these women buy their fabric at the market, while the habits of self-consumption could lead them to use the wool of their sheep, which they would spin in the evening at the vigil. These two practices, moreover, are not incompatible. The Bretons, like the rest of the rural French, have underwear in abundance, but few outer clothes: they put on nipples for the work in the fields and reserve their costumes for Sunday. Pants, bragou braz, the headdress of women or corledenn, the black vest called jiletenn, vary greatly from one Breton country to another. But these "folk" outfits were not fixed until the end of the 19th century, when national standardization began to threaten regional costumes.

  • Brittany
  • costumes
  • fair
  • folklore
  • peasants
  • rural life


Yves MOUTH Local customs and practices of an agricultural nature in force in the Morbihan department Vannes, 1939. Yann BREKILIEN Daily life of peasants in Brittany in the 19th century Hachette, 1966.Denise DELOUCHE under the direction of, Brittany, images and myths University press of Rennes II, 1987. Georges DUBY, Armand WALLON (eds.) History of rural France , t.III, “Apogee and crisis of peasant civilization, 1789-1914” Paris, Seuil, 1976.Eugen WEBER The End of the Terroirs: the modernization of rural France (1870-1914) Paris, Fayard, 1983.

To cite this article

Ivan JABLONKA, "Clothing in Brittany"



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