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Robe and petticoat

Robe and petticoat

  • Place of origin:

    Scotland, Great Britain (possibly, made)
    France (woven)

  • Date:

    1774-1775 (made)
    1880-1890 (altered)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    [Petticoat] Silk, lined at the hem with silk taffeta
    [Gown] Chiné silk velvet, lined with linen and silk taffeta, hand-sewn with silk and linen thread

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the Friends of the V&A, and a number of private donors

  • Museum number:

    T.93:1, 2-2003

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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This type of gown is known as a sack back, with a single piece of fabric pleated and stitched at the back of the neck and an open front. It was a style that dominated women’s fashions during the 18th century. It developed from a loose negligee but by the 1770s it had become a more formal type of dress and would have been worn for attending assembly rooms, dinner parties, the theatre or the opera.

This is a very rare example of the use of velvet in 18th-century women’s dress. Normally fabrics are printed after the weaving process. In the chiné technique, the warp threads are printed before, and during weaving the slight pulling of the threads gives the pattern a blurred effect, resembling a watercolour when finished. In this extraordinary example, the chiné process has been combined with velvet - a difficult technique that was produced only in a few places in France. The silk for this fabric is reputed to have cost 36 shillings a yard. With an average of 17 yards required for a gown and petticoat of this style, the fabric would today cost about £2,200.

Physical description

A sack back gown and petticoat of chiné velvet. The fabric is woven in alternating bands of ivory and pink satin in a vertical ribbon pattern with a band of floral chiné velvet. The ensemble has been altered inside for fancy dress in the late 19th century.
[Petticoat] The petticoat is made up of 5 panels of silk, lined at the hem with silk taffeta and box pleated at the waist with ties on either side. The waist has been altered for fancy dress and display at Castle Howard
[Gown] The gown is a sack back style with elbow length sleeves with a single ruffle. There are two double box pleats at the back. The gown is lined with linen and silk taffeta. 19th century alterations include adding the lace trim.

Place of Origin

Scotland, Great Britain (possibly, made)
France (woven)

Date

1774-1775 (made)
1880-1890 (altered)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

[Petticoat] Silk, lined at the hem with silk taffeta
[Gown] Chiné silk velvet, lined with linen and silk taffeta, hand-sewn with silk and linen thread

Dimensions

Width: 74.3 cm fabric
[Petticoat] Length: 101 cm overall at back
[Gown] Length: 162.0 cm overall at back

Object history note

Historical significance: This is a very rare example of a velvet used in 18th century women's dress. This particular combination of the chiné technique with a silk pile is unusual. It was a difficult technique and only produced in a few places in France. The silk for this fabric is reputed to have cost 36 shillings a yard.
[Petticoat] Formerly part of the Castle Howard Costume collection, the private collection of George Howard. Purchased on 7 October 2003 from the Sotheby's.

Materials

Silk; Linen; Silk velvet; Silk taffeta

Techniques

Hand sewing

Categories

Scotland

Collection code

T&F

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Qr_O85966
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