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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1740-1745 (made)
    1875-1900 (altered)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk with coloured silk and metal threads

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss Katharine Boyle

  • Museum number:

    T.179 to C-1959

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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.

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.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1740-1745 (made)
1875-1900 (altered)



Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk with coloured silk and metal threads


Width: 26.75 in selvedge to selvedge

Object history note

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.

Historical context note

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.

Descriptive line

Court mantua composed of a gown and petticoat of embroidered silk with coloured silk and metal threads, England, 1740-1745

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

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


Silk; Metal thread; Silk thread


Hand sewing; Hand embroidery

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Vase


Fashion; Embroidery; Women's clothes; Textiles; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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