Gown

ca. 1800 (made)
Gown thumbnail 1
Gown thumbnail 2
+2
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

By the end of the 18th century, rigidly tailored garments for both men and women were replaced by styles made for ease and comfort, resulting in the neoclassical style of the 1780s. Inspired in part by the statuary of ancient Greece and Rome, the new fashion was epitomised by light cotton gowns falling around the body in an unstructured way, held around the high waist with a simple sash and accompanied by a soft shawl draped around exposed shoulders. This style was ideal for the Indian imports like Kashmiri shawls and Bengali muslin, as used in this embroidered gown. Championed by such influential figures as Emma Hamilton in England and Madame Récamier in France, the so-called ‘Empire’ style catapulted Indian muslin into the forefront of fashion.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Muslin embroidered with cotton thread
Brief Description
embroidered muslin, 1800-20, Indian; Bengal for the European market
Physical Description
'Empire style' unstructured muslin gown embroidered with cotton thread
Dimensions
  • Bust circumference: 70cm
  • Centre front, shoulder to hem length: 141cm
  • Centre back, shoulder to end of train length: 172cm
  • Hem, approximately circumference: 170cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries GOWN About 1800 Women’s dress changed dramatically after 1785. The rich fabrics and complicated, formal shapes of the late 18th century gave way to simple, light fabrics that draped easily. These new gowns achieved something of the effect of the simple tunics shown on classical Greek and Roman statues and vases, Muslin embroidered with cotton thread Fabric made in India, gown made in England Given by Miss Frances Vickers Museum no. 444-1888 (2013)
Credit line
Given by Miss Frances Vickers
Production
Muslin cloth from India (Bengal)
Summary
By the end of the 18th century, rigidly tailored garments for both men and women were replaced by styles made for ease and comfort, resulting in the neoclassical style of the 1780s. Inspired in part by the statuary of ancient Greece and Rome, the new fashion was epitomised by light cotton gowns falling around the body in an unstructured way, held around the high waist with a simple sash and accompanied by a soft shawl draped around exposed shoulders. This style was ideal for the Indian imports like Kashmiri shawls and Bengali muslin, as used in this embroidered gown. Championed by such influential figures as Emma Hamilton in England and Madame Récamier in France, the so-called ‘Empire’ style catapulted Indian muslin into the forefront of fashion.
Bibliographic References
  • Bryant, Julius, Editor. Art and Design for All: The Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9781851776665p.236, pl. 294
  • Jackson, Anna & Jaffer, Amin (eds.) Encounters : the meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, London, V&A, 2004
Collection
Accession Number
444-1888

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJanuary 13, 2005
Record URL