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Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    mid 18th century

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, metal threads, copper threads, silver, braid, hessian

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This stage costume was worn in private theatricals at Meleto Castle, Tuscany, Italy, a private residence owned by the Ricasoli family. The Ricasolis, an ancient aristocratic dynasty, also owned a Palazzo in via Maggio 7, Florence which also contained a private theatre.

The stiffness, embroidery and cut of the costume suggest that it was used for dancing. The hessian lining would have preserved the shape of the costume and the silver embroidery would have sparkled in the candlelight as the performer moved. The hemming on the left panel of the coat would also reveal the movement of the dancer's leg.

The stage coat is similar in style to a 'banyan' or morning coat, a popular style in the mid-eighteenth century, suggesting that it may have been re-purposed from a fashion garment. The costume also bears evidence of alterations in the nineteenth century.

Physical description

Salmon pink and silver floral brocade skirted coat, the edge to edge front having applique front panels of black with silver strip embroidery simulating 'frogging'; the edges trimmed with silver metal fringe (silver-coated copper). The left front is turned back appliqued with black silk decoration in silver strip embroidery. The full sleeves end in half black silk simulated cuff edged with silver metal braid and bold silver braid edge; the other half and up the back seam to shoulder back slit edged with silver braid. Around hem and armholes trimmed with silver braid. Lined with hessian fabric to stiffen the costume.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


mid 18th century

Materials and Techniques

Silk, metal threads, copper threads, silver, braid, hessian


Length: 98 cm Collar to hem approximate, Width: 36 cm Across shoulders approximate, Width: 37 cm front waist approximate, Width: 123 cm Across front of skirt hem (when coat is closed) approximate

Descriptive line

Theatre costume worn in private performances, Italy, mid-18th century .

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inaugural Conference for the Ricasoli Collection
Patrons, Politics, Music and Art in Italy, 1738-1859.
University of Louisville, March 14-18, 1989


Brocade; Silk (textile); Silver strip; Silver braid; Fringe; Copper; Hessian


Embroidering; Applied work


Entertainment & Leisure; Costumes


Theatre and Performance Collection

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