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Doll's undress gown

Doll's undress gown

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1690-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Satin lined with silk damask

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased by public subscription

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type

The style of this nightgown derives from the Japanese kimono. Kimonos first appeared in Western Europe in the 1650s as annual gifts from the Japanese shoguns (hereditary commanders-in-chief of the Japanese army) to members of the Dutch East India Company. They became popular garments in Europe and the demand for them soon outstripped the supply from Japan. Both the Dutch and English East India companies began importing kimonos from India, made of the printed cottons available there.

Materials & Techniques

The nightgown is T-shaped and hand-sewn of salmon-pink satin with a floral pattern in purple, pale blue, emerald green, lime green, orange and deep pink. The fabric is either French or Italian in origin and woven about 1680. The gown is lined with blue Chinese silk damask (a woven material whose effect depends on the differing play of light on its pattern surfaces, which alternate between the smooth face and the contrasting reverse of satin weave).

Ownership & Use

Various styles of informal gown had been in use in England since the 16th century. In the late 17th century women wore westernised versions of the kimono as informal gowns over stays (a stiff corset) and a petticoat. This ensemble would be worn when getting up in the morning and before dressing in the formal clothes required for public activities. At the end of the day, many women removed their mantuas (gowns) and donned a nightgown for relaxing in private at home.

Physical description

Doll's undress gown of drawloom-woven salmon pink satin with a floral pattern. The pattern colours are purple, pale blue, emerald green, lime green, orange and deep pink. The woven pattern is in changes, with one extra colour used at one time. Lined with blue Chinese silk damask with a floral pattern. The gown is T-shaped with a gore at each side of the skirt. The fabric is gathered slightly at the back neck and has a deep pleat at each shoulder. The collar is turned back and stitched to show the lining which forms robing at the front, and cuffs at the sleeves.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1690-1700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Satin lined with silk damask


Length: 43.4 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 undress gown, London, 1690-1700 of drawloom-woven satin, Italian or French c1680.

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]


Silk (textile)


Hand sewing


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


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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