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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery

Night Gown

1650-1700 (weaving), 1690-1720 (sewing)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The loosely cut style of the banyan (a man's informal robe) is based on that of the Japanese kimono. Robes like this became popular in Europe from the mid-17th century, brought back by members of the East India Company, and by the 1670s European tailors were making banyans, also known as nightgowns. During the 18th century nightgowns evolved into several different shapes, from the simple T- shape of the original kimono to others cut more like the European coat. Their generically 'oriental' air was part of a wider taste for exotic designs that formed part of the fashion for Chinoiserie.

This banyan is a striking and rare example, in very good condition for its age, made from blue silk damask woven in China for import into Europe. Such silks were primarily intended for furnishing, and appear in merchants' records as 'bed damasks'; the length of their pattern repeat was displayed to best advantage in the long drop of bed curtains. A silk damask of closely similar design to this was used to furnish a room in the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Schlosshof, in 1725 (now in MAK in Vienna).
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object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silk; hand woven in a damask weave, hand-sewn
Brief Description
A man's night gown, 1690-1720, Dutch or English; of Chinese blue silk damask, 1650-1700
Physical Description
The night gown is made up using a blue silk damask with a large repeating design of a Chinese incense burner among acanthus-like foliage. It is lined with blue silk taffeta. It is of simple T-shape construction with no fastenings. There are no shoulder seams, so the design of the silk is in the correct orientation at the back, but appears upside down as it comes over the shoulders and down the front.



The loom width of the damask is 71 cm (28 inches). This width is consistent with it having been woven on a Chinese rather than European loom, as the design suggests.
Dimensions
  • Nape of neck to hem at centre back length: 153cm
  • Centre neck to sleeve end with cuff unfolded width: 97cm
  • Chest under arms circumference: 142cm
Historical context
The loosely cut style of the night gown is based on that of the Dutch japonse rock, the imported Japanese kosode (kimono) or Dutch version of it.
Summary
The loosely cut style of the banyan (a man's informal robe) is based on that of the Japanese kimono. Robes like this became popular in Europe from the mid-17th century, brought back by members of the East India Company, and by the 1670s European tailors were making banyans, also known as nightgowns. During the 18th century nightgowns evolved into several different shapes, from the simple T- shape of the original kimono to others cut more like the European coat. Their generically 'oriental' air was part of a wider taste for exotic designs that formed part of the fashion for Chinoiserie.



This banyan is a striking and rare example, in very good condition for its age, made from blue silk damask woven in China for import into Europe. Such silks were primarily intended for furnishing, and appear in merchants' records as 'bed damasks'; the length of their pattern repeat was displayed to best advantage in the long drop of bed curtains. A silk damask of closely similar design to this was used to furnish a room in the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Schlosshof, in 1725 (now in MAK in Vienna).
Bibliographic Reference
North, Susan. (2020). Indian Gowns and Banyans — New Evidence and Perspectives. Costume,54 (1). pp. 30-55. DOI: 10.3366/cost.2020.0142
Collection
Accession Number
T.31-2012

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record createdMarch 19, 2012
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