Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    France (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1805-1810 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton muslin, embroidered with white cotton, lined with linen, hand-sewn

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss M. B. Hudson

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This evening ensemble characterises Neo-classical dress of the early 19th century. The high-waisted style with short sleeves imitated the forms of Greek and Roman dress seen in surviving sculpture. The white muslin fabrics used for these gowns were either imported from India or, in the case of this example, made in Europe to imitate Indian materials. A design of acorns and vine tendrils has been worked in down the front and around the hem of the gown. A scarf of knitted silk has been printed in a pattern similar to those of the popular Indian cashmere shawls.

Physical description

Evening dress of white muslin, embroidered all over in white cotton. The embroidery is worked in a pattern of French knots, with the collars, skirt border, and centre stripe embroidered in chain stitch. The design links vine tendrils and acorns. The dress has a low square neck adjusted with a draw-cord, and 'stomacher' front closing over inner lining flaps. The waist is high and the skirt cut straight and gathered at the centre of the back, fastening with a tape tie. It extends into a long oval train. The sleeves are short and have a 'vandyke' trimming.

Place of Origin

France (possibly, made)


1805-1810 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cotton muslin, embroidered with white cotton, lined with linen, hand-sewn


Length: 1116 cm Below bust to front hem, Length: 226 cm Centre back raised waist seam to hem of train, Width: 35 cm raised waist seam, under bust, front, Width: 34 cm raised waist seam, back panel

Object history note

Given to the V&A in 1913 by Miss M.B. Hudson, Lancaster Gate, London (RP 1913/3077M). On entry to the Museum it was noted that it had been 'slightly repaired'.

Between 1962 and 1979, this dress was displayed in the V&A's old costume court. It was also loaned to the British Council Exhibition of Portraits which travelled to Romania and Hungary in 1972-73 (RPs 72/882A). It was exhibited in 1975-76 in an exhibition at the British Library celebrating the bicentenary of Jane Austen (RPs 75/2216).

Historical context note

White muslin, Classical in effect, was fashionable from the 1790s to about 1810. Dresses of similar shape to this with a stripe down the centre-front were in use from about 1806, when an example was illustrated in the Lady's Monthly Museum, February 1806, to 1809, the 'pocket book' plate Fashionable Dress of the Year 1809. The oak leaf had classical connotations but, as one of Napoleon's devices, became even more popular after his coronation in 1804.

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

Rothstein, Natalie. Four Hundred Years of Fashion. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1984. ISBN: 1851771166.

Production Note

The fineness of the muslin could suggest an Indian origin for the fabric.


Muslin; Cotton; Linen



Subjects depicted

Oak leaf; Acorns


Clothing; Fashion; Women's clothes; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.