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Sack back gown

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)
    China (textile, painted)

  • Date:

    1760-1770 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted silk, chenille, hand-sewn

  • Museum number:

    T.115&A-1953

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118a, case 9 []

This elegant robe and petticoat are fine examples of a woman's formal daywear in the early 1760s. In cut, fabric and design they were the height of fashion. The pattern on the silk is hand-painted. The fabric was first sized with alum to make the paint adhere. Next the design was drawn freehand in ink or silverpoint. A variety of pigments were used, including white lead or a chalk ground for the highlights. The robe and petticoat are hand sewn with silk thread and trimmed with gathered strips of the hand-painted silk.

The style and design of this ensemble exemplify the Rococo fashion in dress. The white silk painted in a variety of bright colours reflects the Rococo palette, while the scalloped sleeve cuffs and gathered robings create a decorative surface pattern. The robe is a sack back (a style of gown with the fabric at the back arranged in box pleats at the shoulders and falling loose to the floor with a slight train), and would have been worn with a wide square hoop under the petticoat.

The silk was woven and painted in China. The width of the fabric and the use of coloured threads in the selvedge (the fabric edge) differ from European silks. The floral pattern shows the influence of Western design, indicating that it was made expressly for the European market.

Physical description

Sack-back gown and petticoat of painted Chinese export silk satin trimmed with silk braid. Painted with exotic flowers.

The sack-back has half length sleeves and sleeve ruffles of the same material. The front is decorated with ruched wavy bands of the same material, edged with chenille. With an open front.

The petticoat has small paniers. The front is decorated with ruched wavy bands of the same material decorated with chenille.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)
China (textile, painted)

Date

1760-1770 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Painted silk, chenille, hand-sewn

Descriptive line

Sack-back gown and petticoat of painted silk, painted in China, made in Great Britain, 1760-1770

Materials

Silk satin

Techniques

Painting; Hand sewing

Subjects depicted

Floral patterns

Categories

Textiles; Fashion; Women's clothes; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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