Night Gown thumbnail 1
Night Gown thumbnail 2
+4
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery

Night Gown

1650-1700 (weaving), 1720-50 (sewing)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The loosely cut style of this man's informal robe is based on that of the Japanese kimono. Robes like this became popular in Europe from the mid-17th century, brought back by members of the East India Company, and by the 1670s European tailors were making them. The exact geographic and cultural source of the style was not generally well known in England, where they were called 'Indian gowns' when made of any non-European fabric, for example, Indian cottons, Chinese or Indian silks.

This nightgown is a striking and rare example, in very good condition for its age, made from blue silk damask woven in China for import into Europe. Such silks were primarily intended for furnishing, and appear in merchants' records as 'bed damasks'; the length of their pattern repeat was displayed to best advantage in the long drop of bed curtains. A silk damask of closely similar design to this was used to furnish a room in the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Schlosshof, in 1725 (now in MAK in Vienna).
visit V&A trail: Collection highlights From 'Tippoo's Tiger' to the Ardabil Carpet, this trail showcases a selection of must-see museum objects – your perfect introduction to the V&A.
object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silk; hand woven in a damask weave, hand-sewn
Brief Description
A man's night gown, 1720-50, Dutch or British; of Chinese blue silk damask, 1650-1700
Physical Description
The night gown is made up using a blue silk damask with a large repeating design of a Chinese incense burner among acanthus-like foliage. It is lined with blue silk taffeta. It is of simple T-shape construction with no fastenings. There are no shoulder seams, so the design of the silk is in the correct orientation at the back, but appears upside down as it comes over the shoulders and down the front.



The loom width of the damask is 71 cm (28 inches). This width is consistent with it having been woven on a Chinese rather than European loom, as the design suggests.
Dimensions
  • Nape of neck to hem at centre back length: 153cm
  • Centre neck to sleeve end with cuff unfolded width: 97cm
  • Chest under arms circumference: 142cm
Gallery Label
  • Formal dress for men, comprising a coat, waistcoat and breeches, was close-fitting, heavy and restrictive in cut. At home, when with family or receiving friends or business associates, wealthy men often preferred a loose-fitting, full-length gown, called a robe de chambre in France. The style derives from the Japanese kimono and was often made in imported textiles.(01/2020)
  • Formal dress for men, comprising a coat, waistcoat and breeches, was close-fitting, heavy and restrictive in cut. At home, when with family or receiving friends or business associates, wealthy men often preferred to wear a loose-fitting, full-length dressing gown, or banyan. The style derives from the Japanese kimono, but the word itself originated in the Indian word for a merchant or trader – banya.(12/2015-12/2019)
Historical context
The loosely cut style of the night gown is based on that of the Dutch japonse rock, the imported Japanese kosode (kimono) or Dutch version of it.
Summary
The loosely cut style of this man's informal robe is based on that of the Japanese kimono. Robes like this became popular in Europe from the mid-17th century, brought back by members of the East India Company, and by the 1670s European tailors were making them. The exact geographic and cultural source of the style was not generally well known in England, where they were called 'Indian gowns' when made of any non-European fabric, for example, Indian cottons, Chinese or Indian silks.



This nightgown is a striking and rare example, in very good condition for its age, made from blue silk damask woven in China for import into Europe. Such silks were primarily intended for furnishing, and appear in merchants' records as 'bed damasks'; the length of their pattern repeat was displayed to best advantage in the long drop of bed curtains. A silk damask of closely similar design to this was used to furnish a room in the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Schlosshof, in 1725 (now in MAK in Vienna).
Bibliographic References
  • Silk: Fibre, Fabric and Fashion, edited by Lesley Ellis Miller and Ana Cabrera Lafuente with Claire Allen-Johnstone, Thames and Hudson Ltd. in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom, 2021, pp. 116-117 North, Susan. (2020). Indian Gowns and Banyans — New Evidence and Perspectives. Costume,54 (1). pp. 30-55. DOI: 10.3366/cost.2020.0142 L.E. Miller, 'In Fashion: Two Banyans and a Suit', Luxury. History, Culture, Consumption, Vol. 4:2-3 (July-November 2017), pp. 159-165. A new acquisition for the Europe 1600-1815 Galleries (opened in 2015). Here the object is mistakenly called a banyan rather than a nightgown. L.E.Miller, 'Male Adornment', The Arts of Living. Europe 1600-1815, eds. E. Miller and H. Young. London: V&A Publishing, 2015, pp. 184-8. Mistakenly called a banyan in the text, providing an example of the type of garment worn at home by M. Jourdain in Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (1670).
Collection
Accession Number
T.31-2012

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 createdMarch 19, 2012
Record URL