Mantua thumbnail 1
Mantua thumbnail 2
+2
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Mantua

1733-1734 (woven), 1735-1740 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The draped skirts of this magnificent 1730s mantua cleverly conceal its complex construction. One of the mantua’s characteristics was a long train, which was sewn as a flat piece of silk and arranged with each wearing. The train was folded up, then folded in and draped over a loop of thread on either side of the waist. In order that the finished side of the silk always show when the mantua was worn, the train was constructed with panels of the right and wrong sides of the fabric sewn together. Pinning up and draping a train successfully was an art and required the help of maids to achieve the perfect effect.

The mantua was worn over a matching petticoat and the resulting ensemble constituted formal daywear in the 1730s. Also typical for this period is the silk, intricately brocaded in a flowing pattern of large, realistically rendered flowers and leaves.


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

  • Mantua
  • Petticoat
Materials and Techniques
Brocaded silk, hand-sewn with spun silk and spun threads, lined with linen, brown paper lining for cuffs, brass, canvas and pleated silk
Brief Description
Mantua and petticoat of white brocaded silk, F, 1735-1740, British; probably Spitalfields 1733-1734
Physical Description
Mantua and petticoat of white ground brocaded silk with a 24 inch repeating pattern of trees on an island, and embellished with large pink and darker pink fantastic flowers with a Chinoiserie flush pattern of a group of buildings behind the trees. Hand sewn with 2 ply 'S' spun silk and 2 ply 'S' spun threads.
Dimensions
  • Width: 390mm
  • Depth: 255mm
  • At neck, approx. circumference: 38.0cm
  • Depth: 260mm
Production typeUnique
Credit line
Given by Gladys Windsor Fry
Object history
Alterations: Moderate alterations and additions were made for fancy dress in the late 19th century, which have been removed or reversed.



Historical significance: The pattern of the silk is representative of a new three-dimensional approach that developed in the early 1730s. The very short sleeves of the mantua correspond to the period circa 1736-1739; similar examples appear in portraiture.



RF number is 1985/1851.
Historical context
This is an example of formal day wear for a woman in the 18th century.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The draped skirts of this magnificent 1730s mantua cleverly conceal its complex construction. One of the mantua’s characteristics was a long train, which was sewn as a flat piece of silk and arranged with each wearing. The train was folded up, then folded in and draped over a loop of thread on either side of the waist. In order that the finished side of the silk always show when the mantua was worn, the train was constructed with panels of the right and wrong sides of the fabric sewn together. Pinning up and draping a train successfully was an art and required the help of maids to achieve the perfect effect.



The mantua was worn over a matching petticoat and the resulting ensemble constituted formal daywear in the 1730s. Also typical for this period is the silk, intricately brocaded in a flowing pattern of large, realistically rendered flowers and leaves.
Bibliographic References
  • Hart, Avril and North, Susan. Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries. London: V&A Museum, 1998, p. 60
  • Ginsburg, Madeleine. Economy and Magnificence. V&A Album 6, 1986, pp. 55-68
Collection
Accession Number
T.324&A-1985

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdDecember 11, 2002
Record URL