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Frock coat

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1890 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool with silk revers, lined with sateen and cotton shirting, hand-sewn and machine-sewn

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Valerie Mendes

  • Museum number:

    T.624-1996

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125b, case 3

Object Type
The top frock-coat came into fashion during the 1830s. It was an overcoat that was cut like an ordinary frock-coat (a formal close-fitting coat with waist seam) but was usually longer and generally double-breasted. It was intended to be worn without an undercoat while giving the appearance of an overcoat. It was made of heavy cloth such as cheviots, beavers, meltons and witneys, and often had a velvet collar.

Design & Designing
At the close of the 19th century both men's and women's clothes were changing shape to create a new, slimmer and more sinuous line. The cut of the top frock-coat aimed to minimise the apparent size of the waist and hips. There were different styles, including the 'Albert' top frock and the 'Newmarket' top frock.

Historical Associations
John Singer Sargent's famous portrait of W. Graham Robertson (1894; Tate Britain) depicts the subject wearing an Albert top frock. Graham Robertson was so impressed by Sargent's work that he commissioned the artist to paint his mother's portrait. During the sittings Sargent found her son a more paintable subject and asked the young dandy to pose in his elegant, long frock-coat with his poodle Mouton. The heat of the summer made wearing the overcoat almost unbearable, but Sargent insisted, 'The coat is the picture. You must wear it.' Robertson therefore removed most of his clothes, which allowed him to pull the coat tight around his body to give him an even more slender and elegant air. It is hardly surprising that it was described as 'a long frock-coat put on a lamp post'.

Physical description

Frock coat of black wool with silk revers, lined with sateen and cotton shirting, hand-sewn and machine-sewn.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

ca. 1890 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Wool with silk revers, lined with sateen and cotton shirting, hand-sewn and machine-sewn

Dimensions

Length: 113 cm, Width: 67 cm

Descriptive line

Frock coat of wool with silk revers, Great Britain, ca. 1890

Labels and date

British Galleries:
At the end of the century there was a wide range of overcoats to choose from. This style was ideal for smart city wear. It was cut like a normal frock coat with a waist seam and long skirts. The tight fit meant that it would not have been worn with a coat underneath. [27/03/2003]

Categories

Fashion; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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