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Partlet

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1605-20 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, silk thread, silver thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-embroidered

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs L L B Angas

  • Museum number:

    T.13-1956

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A partlet was a common dress accessory for women in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It served to fill in the low-cut front of a gown, a style that was only appropriate for formal and court dress. Middle-class women’s clothing and aristocratic women’s informal dress always kept the bosom and neck well covered with smocks or partlets.

Similar to other linen dress accessories, such as coifs, forehead cloths and stomachers, the partlet was frequently embroidered with coloured silks and precious metal threads in naturalistic designs. The embroidery design of this partlet is very similar to that of two sleeve panels in the V&A collection, T.327&A-1980.

Physical description

A partlet of linen embroidered with silk thread of shades of blue, green, yellow, red, pink and purple in detached buttonhole stitch and chain stitch, and silver and silver-gilt threads in double-plait stitch. The pattern consists of scrolling stems bearing rows of foxglove and borage, repeating with strawberries and pansies. There is a cornflower in the centre of the design and centipedes worked at the sides. The shape of the embroidery is curved at the neckline, with a 9.0 cm opening at the front outined with silver thread in twisted chain stitch. The lower edge of the embroidery is shaped for a curved neckline. The partlet is unlined; a backing of gauze has been added later. The thread count is 80 x 80 threads per inch, approximately. Almost identical in design to sleeve panels, T.327&A-1980.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1605-20 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Linen, silk thread, silver thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-embroidered

Dimensions

Length: 27.5 cm overall, approx, Width: 30.0 cm overall, approx

Object history note

Given to the V&A in 1956 by Mrs L L B Angas, who, according to the acquisition file had 'been working for some months in the Texitle Study Room, copying a Victorian needlework carpet'.

Descriptive line

Woman's partlet of linen, 1605-20, British, embroidered with coloured silks, silver-gilt thread

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

Tiramani, Jenny, 'Embroidered Partlet and Sleeve Panels', in North, Susan and Jenny Tiramani, eds, Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns, vol.1, London: V&A Publishing, 2011, pp.136-141
Wingfield Digby, George, Elizabethan Embroidery, London: Faber & Faber, 1963, frontispiece
Ashelford, Elizabeth, Dress in the Age of Elizabeth I, London: Batsford, 1988, p.79, plate 51

Subjects depicted

Foxglove; Cornflower; Rose; Borage; Strawberry

Categories

Accessories; Clothing; Fashion; Embroidery

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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