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Sack back

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)
    Guangdong (silk, woven)
    Guangdong (silk, painted)

  • Date:

    1760-1765 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Chinese painted silk, hand-sewn with silk thread, the gown and petticoat trimmed with woven silk net and silk bobbin lace, and two later decorations trimmed with 19th century green silk ribbon

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the Elspeth Evans Bequest

  • Museum number:

    T.593:1 to 5-1999

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
This elegant robe and petticoat are fine examples of a woman's formal daywear in the early 1760s. In cut, fabric and design they were the height of fashion.

Materials & Making
The pattern on the silk is hand-painted. The fabric was first sized with alum to make the paint adhere. Next the design was drawn freehand in ink or silverpoint. A variety of pigments were used, including white lead or a chalk ground for the highlights. The robe and petticoat are hand sewn with silk thread and trimmed with gathered strips of the hand-painted silk.

Time
The style and design of this ensemble exemplify the Rococo fashion in dress. The pale yellow silk painted in a variety of bright colours reflects the Rococo palette, while the scalloped sleeve cuffs and gathered robings create a decorative surface pattern. The robe is a sack back (a style of gown with the fabric at the back arranged in box pleats at the shoulders and falling loose to the floor with a slight train), and would have been worn with a wide square hoop under the petticoat.

Places
The silk was woven and painted in China. The width of the fabric and the use of coloured threads in the selvedge (the cloth edge) differ from European silks. The floral pattern shows the influence of Western design, indicating that it was made expressly for the European market.

Physical description

A sack back gown and petticoat of Chinese painted silk, with three fragments, two of which have been remade in the 19th century for fancy dress use. The painted design is very typical of Chinese export art of the Qian Long period (1735-1795).

Place of Origin

London (made)
Guangdong (silk, woven)
Guangdong (silk, painted)

Date

1760-1765 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Chinese painted silk, hand-sewn with silk thread, the gown and petticoat trimmed with woven silk net and silk bobbin lace, and two later decorations trimmed with 19th century green silk ribbon

Object history note

Owned and worn by Mrs. Garrick, née Eva Maria Veigel (born in Vienna, 1724, died in Hampton, near London, 1822), wife of the renowned actor David Garrick (born in Hereford, Hereford and Worcestershire, 1717, died in London, 1779)

Historical significance: This gown illustrates the prevailing English tastes of the 1760s in general and in particular of the Garricks. The V&A owns silver and a set of Indian bed-hangings once belonging to David Garrick and his wife. Her dress contributes an even more intimate perspective on their lifestyle.

Historical context note

This is a fine example of a woman's formal gown from the early 1760s. It illustrates the popularity of imported painted silks and the influence of Chinoiserie on dress. The width of the silk, 28&1/2 inches or 72.5 cm, and the use of coloured threads in the selvedge indicate that the silk was woven in China. It was most likely painted there, in a very westernised floral pattern. The sack back style for a wide square hoop indicates formal daywear. The buttoned stomacher and waist seam are typical of the 1760s while the triple sleeve ruffle is more typical of the 1750s and therefore reinforces its formality.

Descriptive line

Sack back and petticoat, worn by Mrs Garrick, English, 1760-65 of Chinese painted silk

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Eva Garrick was keenly aware of fashion and chose hand-painted Chinese silk for her dress and Chintz for her bed-hangings.These textiles complemented the European taste for Chinoiserie furnishings. The malachite green and cochineal red on yellow ground are also typical of contemporary Rococo dress, as is the triple sleeve ruffle. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Silk; Lace; Silk thread; Bobbin lace

Techniques

Hand sewn

Categories

Clothing; Fashion; British Galleries; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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