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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)
    Bengal (fabric, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Muslin embroidered with cotton thread

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss Frances Vickers

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 8

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.

Physical description

'Empire style' unstructured muslin gown embroidered with cotton thread

Place of Origin

England (made)
Bengal (fabric, made)


ca. 1800 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Muslin embroidered with cotton thread


Circumference: 70 cm bust, Length: 141 cm centre front, shoulder to hem, Length: 172 cm centre back, shoulder to end of train, Circumference: 170 cm hem, approximately

Descriptive line

embroidered muslin, 1800-20, Indian; Bengal for the European market

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

p.236, pl. 294
Bryant, Julius, Editor. Art and Design for All: The Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9781851776665
Jackson, Anna & Jaffer, Amin (eds.) Encounters : the meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, London, V&A, 2004

Labels and date

British Galleries
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

Production Note

Muslin cloth from India (Bengal)


Muslin; Cotton thread




Fashion; Embroidery; Images Online; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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