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Coat

ca.1770
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

A suit of this type would have been appropriate for smart day wear for a man-about-town, its buttons adding a little sparkle to an otherwise plain ensemble, its contrasting lining providing a hint of sumptuousness as the man promenaded or visited the most fashionable venues.

It is likely that the cloth was purchased from a specialist woollen draper (marchand drapier) who acquired stocks of different qualities and colours of wool to sell to prospective clients. Once the cloth had been selected, the customer would have had his tailor make up his suit to measure. Sometimes tailors purchased the fabrics on behalf of their customers.
read In the pink: colour in menswear For centuries, colour in men's clothing has been a means for both imposing conformity, or expressing individuality. The associations of colour have changed over time – In the 1700s European men wore pink, for example, as a sign of wealth and power, rather than gender. Today the spectrum of...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Coat
  • Waistcoat
Materials and Techniques
Wool (broadcloth/<i>draps fin</i>) lined with silk twill (<i>serge de soie</i>) and linen, interlined with coarse linen canvas topped with hemp fibre; foiled metal, and embroidered with silver spangles and thread
Brief Description
Man's red woollen coat and waistcoat lined with blue twill weave silk, ca.1770; cloth covered buttons decorated with foil. Possibly made in France or the Netherlands.
Physical Description
Man's red woollen coat (broadcloth/draps fin) and waistcoat lined with pale-blue silk twill (serge de soie). A small running stitch outlines the edge of the coat, waistcoat and their pocket flaps. Buttons covered in red foil and embroidered with silver spangles and silver thread. The button band is strengthened with some kind of stiffening which is sewn down about 4.5cm from the outer edge with a similarly expert running stitch which is nearly invisible.
Dimensions
  • Coat length: 108cm (Neck to tails)
Production typeUnique
Gallery Label
Man’s coat and waistcoat About 1760–80 A fashionable man would have worn these garments in the city during the day, perhaps when shopping. He would have bought the fine wool from a draper and taken it to a tailor to be made into a bespoke three-piece suit with breeches. The eye-catching red cloth is set off by a subtly revealed sky-blue lining and silver spangled buttons. Probably France Wool; silk twill and linen lining Buttons: foiled metal, embroidered with silver spangles and thread (09/12/2015)
Object history
Purchased from a sale at Christies on 14 July 1992 from a Collection of Costume, Property of a Gentleman, cat. 2, p. 4. Registered File number 1992/1253. Original description of coat and waistcoat attributed the former to the Netherlands and the latter to France. There is no documentation to explain this split provenance, nor any internal evidence within the objects themselves.
Historical context
This coat and waistcoat probably originally belonged to a three piece suit, of which the breeches are mssing. It is a high class garment, beautifully made to measure, and probably appropriate for use in an urban or country house setting.
Production
The broadcloth is of a quality woven in different places in Europe - in the Netherlands in Leiden; in France, in Abbeville, Elfbeuf, Louviers, or Sedan; in England in the West Country and Yorkshire. It is a high quality fulled cloth, probably made from merino wool imported from Spain. The colour may have been achieved by one of a number of dyeing methods, probably using cochineal.



The buttons are very similar to those illustrated in Diderot's Encylopédie in the section on the button and braidmaker (boutonnier/passementier), plate VI, figs. 1, 2, 3, 4.



The cut of both coat and waistcoat conforms closely to the patterns illustrated in Diderot's Encyclopédie in the section on the tailor (tailleur d'habits), plates V-VII.
Summary
A suit of this type would have been appropriate for smart day wear for a man-about-town, its buttons adding a little sparkle to an otherwise plain ensemble, its contrasting lining providing a hint of sumptuousness as the man promenaded or visited the most fashionable venues.



It is likely that the cloth was purchased from a specialist woollen draper (marchand drapier) who acquired stocks of different qualities and colours of wool to sell to prospective clients. Once the cloth had been selected, the customer would have had his tailor make up his suit to measure. Sometimes tailors purchased the fabrics on behalf of their customers.
Bibliographic References
  • Hart, Avril and Susan North. Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries. London: V&A Publications, 1998. p. 98
  • Baumgarten, Linda, What Clothes Reveal. The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America, Yale University Press, 2002, p. 79. A coat made in Massachussetts of red wool broadcloth about 1770. The cut is similar though it has a turn down collar and no decorative finish.
  • Florence Montgomery. Textiles in America 1650-1880, Norton: New York, 1984, pp.177-8. For discussion of British broadcloth.
Collection
Accession Number
T.214:1, 2-1992

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record createdAugust 15, 2006
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