Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Sack back gown, 1760-65 London (made of Chinese silk), the Victoria & Albert Museum
There is a green ribbon trimming which was added in the last quarter of the 19th century, but I don’t see it in any of the pictures.
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.
Materials & Making
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 pale yellow 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 cloth edge) differ from European silks. The floral pattern shows the influence of Western design, indicating that it was made expressly for the European market.
Robe à la française, ca 1760-65 France or England, LACMA
Robe a la française, ca 1765 England, LACMA
Girl With a Doll by Jean-Etienne Liotard, ca 1765
This picture is interesting to me because the girl looks so playful and childlike. Depictions of kids being kids instead of miniature adults are uncommon before the 1780’s or 90’s, when parents’ attitudes towards childhood changed from “It’s a period of uselessness that we just have to get through” to “Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.” Of course, there were many who had subscribed to the idea since the 17th century so portraits like this aren’t unheard of. I can’t think of any examples from before that, though.
This is the artist’s daughter, by the way.
La marquise de Migieu by Joseph Marie Vien, 1764 France, Musee des beaux-arts Nantes
The colors are absolutely stunning. I can’t stop looking at it!
Detail of a dress, ca 1765, Tirelli Costumi