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Mantua thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Mantua

1740-1745 (made), 1875-1900 (altered)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This ensemble of mantua and petticoat exemplifies court dress, the most formal of English 18th century clothing. Court dress was an exclusive and very ornate style of clothing worn by the aristocracy, the only people usually invited to attend at Court.

The embroidered skirt is open-fronted, and would have had extensive folds and pleats to flow into a long train at the back. The embroidered petticoat would have been visible at the front. It would have fastened at the back and been worn over large square hoops.

Leafy scrolls and vases, quintesssential Rococo motifs, are featured with a profusion of realistically rendered flowers. This ensemble recalls a garment worn by the Duchess of Queensbury in 1740: 'her cloathes were embroidered upon white satin; Vine leaves, Convulvus and Rosebuds shaded after Nature ...'. The mantua has been extensively altered, probably for fancy dress in the late 19th century.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 5 parts.

  • Mantua
  • Petticoat
  • Fragment
  • Fragment
  • Fragment
Materials and Techniques
Embroidered silk with coloured silk and metal threads
Brief Description
Court mantua composed of a gown and petticoat of embroidered silk with coloured silk and metal threads, England, 1740-1745
Physical Description
Court mantua composed of a gown and petticoat made of embroidered cream coloured silk with a design of large flowers sprouting from urns set in a border of swags and trellises. The ensemble has been extensively altered for fancy dress in the late 19th century. Silk hand sewn with 2 ply 'S' spun silk thread and embroidered with coloured silk and silver gilt threads, frisé, bullion and purl.
Dimensions
  • Selvedge to selvedge width: 26.75in
Style
Production typeUnique
Credit line
Given by Miss Katharine Boyle
Object history
Historical significance: The size of the elements in the embroidery design indicates the early 1740s. The pleated cuff on the mantua is slightly old fashioned; the style of the late 1730s rather than the winged version seen in the 1740s.

Displayed in the Costume Court, Gallery 40, 1962 to 1979
Historical context
This ensemble represents court dress, the most formal of English 18th century dress. It would have been worn by a woman of aristocratic birth for attendance at court.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This ensemble of mantua and petticoat exemplifies court dress, the most formal of English 18th century clothing. Court dress was an exclusive and very ornate style of clothing worn by the aristocracy, the only people usually invited to attend at Court.



The embroidered skirt is open-fronted, and would have had extensive folds and pleats to flow into a long train at the back. The embroidered petticoat would have been visible at the front. It would have fastened at the back and been worn over large square hoops.



Leafy scrolls and vases, quintesssential Rococo motifs, are featured with a profusion of realistically rendered flowers. This ensemble recalls a garment worn by the Duchess of Queensbury in 1740: 'her cloathes were embroidered upon white satin; Vine leaves, Convulvus and Rosebuds shaded after Nature ...'. The mantua has been extensively altered, probably for fancy dress in the late 19th century.
Bibliographic References
  • Donald King, ed. British Textile Design in the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tokyo, 1980, Vol I, colour plate 104
  • Michael Snodin, Rococo: Art and Design in Hogarth's England, London: V&A Museum, 1984, p.218 and fig.10
  • Avril Hart and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries, London: V&A Museum, 1998, p.64
Collection
Accession Number
T.179 to C-1959

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record createdDecember 10, 2002
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