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Dress fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Spitalfields (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1708 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brocaded silk damask

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1

Object Type
This length of woven silk was intended for clothing. It might have been chosen for a woman's gown, a man's waistcoat or a nightgown, worn informally at home. The complexity of its woven structure would have made it expensive, while its bold pattern and distinctive colouring date it to a fairly brief period when such a combination was highly fashionable.

Design & Designing
This silk shows what a bold visual effect a brocaded damask could achieve. The designer has set brightly-coloured plant forms against a background of more formal architectural-type motifs whose subtle lines become apparent with the reflection of light. This was a typical juxtaposition of effects in fashionable silks of the early 1700s, which showed a particular exoticism which has been given the name 'bizarre'. This silk shows an English interpretation of the style. Influences included the highly patterned textiles and other decorative objects imported into Europe by the East India companies.

This silk was acquired by the Museum in 1864 as Italian. Its design considered at that time too exotic to be English. But we now know from the signed and dated designs of the master weaver and designer, James Leman, that fabrics like this were woven in Spitalfields, in London.

Physical description

Damask brocaded with coloured silks

Place of Origin

Spitalfields (made)


ca. 1708 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Brocaded silk damask


Height: 165 cm, Width: 52 cm

Descriptive line

Dress fabric, silk damask brocaded with coloured silks, England (Spitalfields), ca. 1708

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This silk is close in style to the early work of the silk designer and master weaver James Leman (about 1688-1745). His designs set bold, brightly-coloured plant forms, which were often stylised and out of scale, against a background of more formal, architectural-type motifs woven as a subtle damask. [27/03/2003]


Textiles; British Galleries; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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