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Wedding suit

  • Place of origin:

    England, Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1673 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool, embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread and lined with red silk

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Daks Simpson group Plc and Moss Bros

  • Museum number:

    T.711:1, 2-1995

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 56d, case 8

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Object Type
These are two items of an ensemble that James, Duke of York, wore to his wedding in 1673. It represents a new fashion in men's wear that had been introduced several years before by the Duke's older brother, Charles II. The style came from France where it derived from the justaucorps, a version of military coat made fashionable by Louis XIV.

People
The Duke of York married for a second time in 1673. His second wife was Mary of Modena (1658-1718), whom he had married by proxy in Italy in September. The marriage contract was confirmed in November upon Mary's arrival at Dover. The second ceremony was a subdued affair, as Mary was a Roman Catholic and the union was unpopular in England and at court. Only the Duke's closest supporters attended and there were none of the public ceremonies or processions normally associated with royal weddings. The Duke of York wore this coat and breeches at Dover.

Design & Designing
Although symmetrical, the design of stylised flowers and leaves is not repeating. This suggests that it was drawn freehand and not transferred from a printed pattern. Couching attaches the silver and silver-gilt threads to the surface of the fabric. Tiny strips of parchment wrapped in metal thread give the embroidery three-dimensional effect.

Physical description

Suit made of heather-coloured wool broadcloth lined with coral ribbed silk. Both jacket and breeches decorated with shaped panels of gold and silver embroidery of lilies and honeysuckle. Under the embroidered panels is a strengthening layer of linen. The jacket cuffs are faced with an extension of the sleeve lining and decorated with applied gold and silver lace. Wooden buttons covered with gold and silver.
[Breeches] The breeches exemplify a transitional style between the old-fashioned petticoat breeches of the 1660s, which were extremely full, and the more snugly fitted knee breeches of the 1690s. They are cut full to the knee with a matching 12 inch, 30.5 cm, cuff at the bottom edge of each leg. The open edge of the cuff is prevented from flopping down by a number of silver-gilt thread loops with fasten to matching buttons.

Place of Origin

England, Great Britain (made)

Date

1673 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Wool, embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread and lined with red silk

Dimensions

[Coat] Length: 91.4 cm, Width: 76 cm at hem, Depth: 38 cm at hem
[Breeches] Length: 68.6 cm

Object history note

Made in England for the wedding in 1673 of James II when Duke of York (born in London 1633, died at St Germain, France 1701) to Mary Beatrice d'Este (born in Modena, Italy in 1658, died at St Germain, France in 1718).

Acquired by Sir Edward Carteret (died in 1699) of Jersey, who attended the wedding ceremony in Dover.

Purchased. Registered File number 1995/2113

Descriptive line

Wedding Suit worn by James II, embroidered wool coat and breeches, England, 1673.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The heavy silver embroidery on this suit would have sparkled in both daylight and candle-light. The waistcoat, now lost, was probably of a contrasting rich fabric and colour. The fashion of a three-piece ensemble (coat, breeches and waistcoat, instead of doublet and breeches), was introduced from France in the 1660s, as was the full wig shown in the mezzotint portrait of James of about 1676 (see photograph). [27/03/2003]

Materials

Silk (textile); Wool (textile); Metal thread

Techniques

Embroidered

Categories

Embroidery; Fashion; Marriage; Formal wear; Men's clothes

Collection code

T&F

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Qr_O78912
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