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Not currently on display at the V&A

Waistcoat

1720-1729 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Both the colour and the design of this sleeved linen waistcoat show the influence of textiles imported into Britain from India. The shape and configuration of the leaves and flowers imitates similar designs on painted Indian cottons. Filling the space between is a pattern of meandering lines, known as ‘vermicelli’, which is Italian for ‘little worms’. This design is also found on early 18th century bedcovers and quilts, particularly worked in yellow silk. The choice of colour mirrors imported Indian embroideries, which preferred the natural yellow shade of tussar silk found in Bengal. Such a light fabric and colour palette for a waistcoat of the 1720s suggests that it was worn during the summer for informal occasions.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen, silk thread; hand-sewn and hand embroidered
Brief Description
A man's sleeved waistcoat, 1720s, British; Linen embroidered with yellow silk, vermicelli ground, sunflowers
Physical Description
Man’s sleeved waistcoat made of linen with a round neck curving fronts, curved 2-piece sleeves and skirts reaching to above the knee. Each front had a pocket opening and scalloped pocket flap (the right pocket flap now missing). The waistcoat is embroidered to shape with yellow silk in a pattern of large Indian-inspired flowers, sunflowers and leaves on the fronts, back skirts, pocket flaps and wrists of the sleeves, the rest of the back and sleeves is embroidered in a vermicelli pattern with white silk. There are 17 worked buttonholes along the left front and 1 on each cuff. There are 16 (1 now missing) embroidered buttons along the right front and 1 on each cuff.



The pockets and waistcoat lining were removed at some point.
Dimensions
  • Right shoulder to hem length: 88.5cm (approx)
  • Chest under armholes circumference: 88.0cm (approx)
Summary
Both the colour and the design of this sleeved linen waistcoat show the influence of textiles imported into Britain from India. The shape and configuration of the leaves and flowers imitates similar designs on painted Indian cottons. Filling the space between is a pattern of meandering lines, known as ‘vermicelli’, which is Italian for ‘little worms’. This design is also found on early 18th century bedcovers and quilts, particularly worked in yellow silk. The choice of colour mirrors imported Indian embroideries, which preferred the natural yellow shade of tussar silk found in Bengal. Such a light fabric and colour palette for a waistcoat of the 1720s suggests that it was worn during the summer for informal occasions.
Bibliographic Reference
Avril Hart and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: the 17th and 18th centuries, London: V&A, 1998, p. 160
Collection
Accession Number
T.125-1938

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record createdJuly 20, 2007
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