Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D , Case 96, Shelf D, Box 5

Cherry Tree

Fancy Dress Costume Design
1860s (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This design was created by Jules Helleu, possibly for Charles Frederick Worth. It is a good example of the creativity and inventiveness of mid-nineteenth century fancy dress costumes. The theme of the costume is a cherry tree, which has deliberately been inverted so that the trunk of the tree forms the bodice, and the branches extend down over the short white crinoline skirt. The skirt is trimmed with appliqué birds along with artificial cherries. A humorous touch is seen at one side of the skirt, where two of the birds are shown caught in a net.

During the 1860s, Empress Eugenie of France threw a number of extravagant masquerade balls which required the guests to wear elaborate and inventive costumes that were made up by Worth and other Paris dressmakers. Worth, a relative newcomer, became the Empress's favoured couturier at the end of the 1850s. This made him extremely fashionable, and the rest of the ladies of Eugenie's court also bought gowns from him - and so too did their husbands' mistresses, and anyone wealthy enough to afford Worth's very high prices. As a result, Worth was under great pressure to produce vast numbers of unique, one of a kind costumes and gowns, often at very short notice. This is one of a large number of similar designs and sketches that were given to the V&A as part of the archive and reference collection of the House of Worth, making it extremely likely that it was originally designed for a guest to wear to one of the Empress's magnificent balls.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
watercolour and pencil drawing
Brief Description
Woman's masquerade ball dress. "Cherry Tree". Watercolour drawing by Jules Helleu, probably for Charles Frederick Worth. Paris, 1860s.
Physical Description
Watercolour drawing, a design for a theatrical or masquerade fancy-dress ball costume. It depicts a cherry tree, the trunk inverted and forming the bodice of the dress, and the branches, laden with cherries, extending over the skirt. The skirt is also decorated with birds and has a border of cherries and birds. To the side of the skirt some birds are shown caught in a net snare.
Credit line
Given by the House of Worth
Summary
This design was created by Jules Helleu, possibly for Charles Frederick Worth. It is a good example of the creativity and inventiveness of mid-nineteenth century fancy dress costumes. The theme of the costume is a cherry tree, which has deliberately been inverted so that the trunk of the tree forms the bodice, and the branches extend down over the short white crinoline skirt. The skirt is trimmed with appliqué birds along with artificial cherries. A humorous touch is seen at one side of the skirt, where two of the birds are shown caught in a net.



During the 1860s, Empress Eugenie of France threw a number of extravagant masquerade balls which required the guests to wear elaborate and inventive costumes that were made up by Worth and other Paris dressmakers. Worth, a relative newcomer, became the Empress's favoured couturier at the end of the 1850s. This made him extremely fashionable, and the rest of the ladies of Eugenie's court also bought gowns from him - and so too did their husbands' mistresses, and anyone wealthy enough to afford Worth's very high prices. As a result, Worth was under great pressure to produce vast numbers of unique, one of a kind costumes and gowns, often at very short notice. This is one of a large number of similar designs and sketches that were given to the V&A as part of the archive and reference collection of the House of Worth, making it extremely likely that it was originally designed for a guest to wear to one of the Empress's magnificent balls.
Bibliographic Reference
Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings Accessions 1957-1958 London: HMSO, 1964
Collection
Accession Number
E.22035-1957

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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