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Doll's shift

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1690-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand-sewn lawn, linen and trimmed with bobbin lace

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased by public subscription

  • Museum number:

    T.846A-1974

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case 3

Object Type
This shift was made for a doll, known as Lady Clapham, that is thought to have belonged to the Cockerell family, descendants of the diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703). The daughter of Pepys's nephew John Jackson (the son of his sister Pauline) married a Cockerell, who had a family home in Clapham, south London.

Designs & Designing
Lady Clapham offers a fine example of both formal and informal dress for a wealthy woman in the 1690s (Museum nos. T.846&A to Y-1974). Her formal outfit includes a mantua (gown) and petticoat, while her informal dress is represented by the nightgown (a dressing gown rather than a garment worn to bed) and petticoat. Accessories such as the stockings, cap and chemise (a body garment) are very valuable since very few items from such an early period survive in museum collections. Equally important is the demonstration of how these clothes were worn together.

Ownership & Use
Dolls were widely produced in the 17th century, although very few survive, due to the wear and tear they usually undergo. The high quality of Lady Clapham and her clothes indicates that she would have been expensive. There is little evidence of use, which suggests that she was admired by adults rather than played with by children.

Physical description

Shift of fine white hand-sewn lawn, mid-calf length. It has a low round neck trimmed with English bobbin lace with a draw cord of white linen for adjustment. The sleeves are of just below elbow length and are gathered into a cuff which has eyelet holes for a linen attachment cord. The cut of the shoulders cannot be observed but the shift has two gores on the left side of the skirt and one on the right.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1690-1700 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Hand-sewn lawn, linen and trimmed with bobbin lace

Dimensions

Length: 38 cm approx.

Object history note

The doll is thought to have belonged to the Cockerell family, descendants of Samuel Pepys. The daughter of Pepys' nephew John Jackson(son of his sister, Pauline) married a Cockerell. The doll and its partner were named 'Lord' and 'Lady' of the family home in Clapham.

Historical significance: The doll and its partner are costume documents; their clothes being, in style, cut and material, perfect miniatures of the fashions of the late 17th century. Their importance is underlined by the almost total lack of other good visual source material for this period, whether pictorial or in the form of surviving garments. In particular the survival of accessories and the informal garments is extremely rare.

Historical context note

Dolls were widely produced in the 17th century, although very few survive. It is most unlikely that these particular examples were the playthings of children. Their production is of a high quality; almost all the accessories survive and there is little wear and tear on the dolls and their garments. The dolls were most probably purchased for the amusement of adults, and as a decorative accessory to a home.

Descriptive line

Doll's shift of lawn trimmed with bobbin lace, London, 1690-1790

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

Hillier, Mary, Pollock's Dictionary of English Dolls, London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1982, 51, 202pp. ill

Labels and date

British Galleries:
These dolls were probably made for the amusement of adults at home, as were dolls' houses at this time. They were named 'Lord and Lady' of the family home in Clapham, London by their owners, the Cockerell family. The outfits of the dolls are perfect miniatures of London fashions of 1690 and 1700. She wears a mantua (gown) of Chinese silk over stays (a stiff corset), with an under-wired cap and high-heeled shoes. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Linen; Bobbin lace

Techniques

Hand sewing; Bobbin lace making; Embroidery

Categories

Dolls & Toys; British Galleries; Lace; Textiles; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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