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Not currently on display at the V&A

Ensemble

1760-1769 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This ensemble represents a popular style of informal dress for women in the 1760s. Known by the French name ‘pet-en-l’air’, it comprises a short sack worn over a petticoat. The silk is very unusual, bearing three different methods of decoration: weaving, embroidery and paint.

When Beatrix Potter was writing one of her books for children, The Tailor of Gloucester, in 1903, she visited the Museum for inspiration on 18th-century dress. This is one of the garments she was shown. In The Tailor of Gloucester there appears a little mouse wearing this splendid ensemble with a mob cap.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Sack
  • Petticoat
Brief description
A woman's pet-en-l'air, 1760s, English of ivory silk, figured, brocaded, embroidered, painted. Inspiration for Beatrix Potter's book, The Tailor of Gloucester.
Physical description
A woman's pet en l'air or ensemble of short sack and petticoat. Both are made of ivory silk figured in a leaf design and brocaded with a leaf motif in silk thread in shades of green, silver--gilt strip and thread. The silk is further embellished with painted flowers. The sack has two double box pleats at the back and a single box pleat on either side of the open front. The sleeves are elbow-length with double sleeve ruffles. The sleeves are lined with unbleached linen and the bodice has a loose lining of unbleached linen, open at the back with three ties on each side, and one tie on each side at the bottom front of the lining. A gathered ruffle of silk edges the front, neck and bottom hem.



The petticoat is made of five widths of silk and pleated to the waist. A narrow ruffle and a deep one edge the bottom of the petticoat. The original ribbon binding the waist has been replaced with a modern cotton tape.
Production typeUnique
Association
Summary
This ensemble represents a popular style of informal dress for women in the 1760s. Known by the French name ‘pet-en-l’air’, it comprises a short sack worn over a petticoat. The silk is very unusual, bearing three different methods of decoration: weaving, embroidery and paint.



When Beatrix Potter was writing one of her books for children, The Tailor of Gloucester, in 1903, she visited the Museum for inspiration on 18th-century dress. This is one of the garments she was shown. In The Tailor of Gloucester there appears a little mouse wearing this splendid ensemble with a mob cap.
Collection
Accession number
439&A-1899

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Record createdAugust 26, 2005
Record URL
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