Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Night gown

  • Place of origin:

    China (The silk damask was woven in China for export to Europe., woven)
    Europe (The night gown was made up in Europe, possibly in Britain or the Netherlands., made)

  • Date:

    1650-1700 (weaving)
    1690-1720 (sewing)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk; hand woven in a damask weave, hand-sewn

  • Museum number:

    T.31-2012

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery, case CA2

The loosely cut style of the banyan (a 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 banyans, also known as nightgowns. During the 18th century nightgowns evolved into several different shapes, from the simple T- shape of the original kimono to others cut more like the European coat. Their generically 'oriental' air was part of a wider taste for exotic designs that formed part of the fashion for Chinoiserie.

This banyan 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).

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.

Place of Origin

China (The silk damask was woven in China for export to Europe., woven)
Europe (The night gown was made up in Europe, possibly in Britain or the Netherlands., made)

Date

1650-1700 (weaving)
1690-1720 (sewing)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silk; hand woven in a damask weave, hand-sewn

Dimensions

Length: 153 cm nape of neck to hem at centre back, width: 97 cm centre neck to sleeve end with cuff unfolded, Circumference: 142 cm chest under arms

Historical context note

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.

Descriptive line

A man's night gown, 1690-1720, Dutch or English; of Chinese blue silk damask, 1650-1700

Materials

Silk

Techniques

Damask weaving; Hand sewing

Categories

Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.