Coat

1705-1715 (sewing), 1750s (altered)
Coat thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The coat, waistcoat and breeches remained the primary ensemble for men’s formal and informal dress throughout the 18th century. This coat dates from the early decades of the 1700s. The muted shade of brown in a fine wool is typical for the date and for English men's dress, as is the silver-gilt embroidery. Up until the 1730s, coats were knee-length, buttoning right to the hem, with full pleats at the sides. The cuffs were altered to the ‘mariner’s’ style of the 1750s, suggesting that the coat may have been worn by two generations of owners.

According to family lore, the coat was worn by Thomas Severne Esq. (1644–1737), who was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to William III (reigned 1689–1702).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wool, silk, linen, linen thread, silver-gilt thread, silver-gilt strip, silver-gilt purl; hand-woven broadcloth, silk, buckram, passementerie, hand-embroidered, hand-sewn
Brief Description
A man's coat, 1705-15, English; embroidered silver-gilt; altered 1750s
Physical Description
A man's coat of light brown superfine woollen broadcloth. It has a round neck, bound with a narrow strip of wool. The sleeves are cut in two, shaped pieces, ending above the wrist. The fronts of the coat curve from the neckline to mid-chest and continue straight down to the hem. The fronts are cut to fit the torso, with wide skirts below the hip, set into 3 pleats (ca. 11 cm deep) on the front and back of the side seam. There are deep, scalloped pocket flaps on each front, just below the hip. The coat and sleeves are lined with dark beige figured silk. The coat is decorated with embroidery in silver-gilt thread down each front, on the pocket flaps and around the pocket flaps on the coat, around the centre back opening and on each side of the front skirt. The embroidery consists of abstract shapes similar to the motifs of the bizarre silk designs of the early 18th century, reduced in scale. There are 13 passementerie buttons, worked in silver-gilt thread, strip and purl, on the right front and 13 buttonholes worked in linen thread on the left front. Only the top 9 buttonholes are cut. The pocket flaps have 5 linen-thread buttonholes - the outside ones on each side are cut. There are five corresponding silver-gilt buttons on the coat underneath. The same button holds the side pleats top and bottom, at the right and left side seams.



The coat was originally made 1715-25, probably with wide, deep cuffs, decorated with the silver-gilt embroidery. In the 1750s the coat was altered for another wearer and to update the style. The side seams were taken in. The cuffs were removed and reconfigured into the 'mariner's cuff' style. The sleeves were narrowed below the elbow.

Dimensions
  • Shoulder to hem at centre back length: 96.0cm (approx)
  • Chest under armholes circumference: 105.0cm (approx)
Production typeUnique
Summary
The coat, waistcoat and breeches remained the primary ensemble for men’s formal and informal dress throughout the 18th century. This coat dates from the early decades of the 1700s. The muted shade of brown in a fine wool is typical for the date and for English men's dress, as is the silver-gilt embroidery. Up until the 1730s, coats were knee-length, buttoning right to the hem, with full pleats at the sides. The cuffs were altered to the ‘mariner’s’ style of the 1750s, suggesting that the coat may have been worn by two generations of owners.



According to family lore, the coat was worn by Thomas Severne Esq. (1644–1737), who was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to William III (reigned 1689–1702).
Bibliographic Reference
Rothstein, Natalie, ed., Four Hundred Year of Fashion (London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1984), p.55.
Collection
Accession Number
T.357-1980

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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