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Ladies' Quarter (Hall 5)

The so-called Ladies' Quarter brings together various collections that have one thing in common: their relationship with the feminine world, and above all with the world of bourgeois women in the 19th century. More than any other gallery in the Collector's Cabinet, this room clearly reflects several lifestyles of days gone by. The very characteristics of the space (its dim lighting, the number of objects on view and the furniture used to display them) create a special atmosphere that helps take us on a unique journey through time.

Here, we can reconstruct aspects of women's life by observing their accessories and the world of feminine adornments in general.

Depending on the time of day and the activity at hand, one had to dress in a certain way or another; accessories played an extremely important role.

Have a look at the fashion magazine pages on display in the turnstile showcases. Some of these are French and others show a clear French influence. All of them feature the latest styles.

Street wear had to include gloves, ankle boots, hats and parasols. As for society wear (dresses for attending a dance or a premiere) a strict dress code had to be followed-bare shoulders, dresses of crepe and silk, wraps for keeping warm and small beaded or crocheted purses. But if there was an essential accessory, it was the fan. All distinguished ladies had to know how to use one elegantly, discreetly and flirtatiously.

But it wasn't all about the clothes and accessories. Women also dressed up using compact powders kept in small delicate cases and they perfumed themselves with colognes in exquisite bottles. They also decked themselves out with jewelry-bracelets, necklaces, bouquet holders, brooches, rings and earrings. There was something for every occasion, including deep mourning.

Women used part of each day for visits-both making and receiving them. In general, each house set aside a specific day and time to receive guests, making use of calling cards and elegant invitations. These social commitments were also subject to strict norms which were laid out in etiquette handbooks.

Needlework and feminine crafts took up part of the time dedicated to leisure enjoyed by upper class women. Don't miss the interesting collection of needlework made with human hair, which is accompanied by an album of samples, on view at the back of the gallery on the right side wall.

Other objects which are not directly related to the world of women round out this 19th century mosaic-portraits, vases decorated with sea shells or wax fruit, showcases with religious objects, and a selection of the furniture that decorated bourgeois homes.

This room also features other curious collections. Three of these are framed and hanging on the wall-the charm collection, the nutcracker collection, and the collection of snuffers-scissors were used to trim the burned wicks on candles.