Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Mourning coat by House of Worth, 1907 Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Jean-Philippe Worth began as an assistant to his father, Charles Frederick Worth, in 1875. Gradually he was allowed to create his own designs and when his father died in 1895, he became the lead designer for the house. He was praised for making elaborate artistic gowns with intricate trimmings on unique textiles, much like his father had before him. Although the House of Worth was still favored by royalty and celebrities through the turn of the century, their styles were no longer the forefront of French fashion after 1900. Around 1910 Jean-Philippe limited his design work to important orders and hired his nephew, Jean-Charles Worth, as the new lead designer before leaving the company entirely after World War I.
The House of Worth, alongside other couturiers of the time, would produce mourning attire upon request for its regular customers. Mourning was an important feature through the Edwardian period as it had been for the previous half century. Black mourning dress reached its peak during the reign of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of the United Kingdom in the second half of the 19th century. Queen Victoria wore mourning from the death of her husband, Prince Albert (1819-1861), until her own death. With these standards in place, it was considered a social requisite to don black from anywhere between three months to two and a half years while grieving for a loved one or monarch. The stringent social custom existed for all classes and was available at all price points. Those who could not afford the change of dress often altered and dyed their regular garments black. The amount of black to be worn was dictated by several different phases of mourning; full mourning ensembles were solid black while half mourning allowed the wearer to add a small amount of white or purple. Haute couture mourning garments, such as this one, are rare but show the importance of mourning in every echelon of society. The heavy fringe and lace appliqué create an interesting texture on the plain black bengaline, which was commonly used for mourning attire.
Child’s mourning garment, ca 1882 England, the Victoria & Albert Museum
Little girl’s mourning garment, in the form of a short princess-line coat dress made of black grosgrain lined throughout with white cotton. The garment has a rounded neck with a self fabric neckband, and fastens the length of the front with metal hooks and stitched loops. The hem and wrist-length sleeves are finished with vandyke tabs bound and faced with self fabric. The coat is shaped to fit at the waist: it is cut in six pieces, the front two of which have long darts. Lines of stitch holes indicate that two mitred pieces of fabric which were originally positioned at the waist back have been removed.
Robe by Liberty of London, ca 1897 London, the Victoria & Albert Museum
This garment with its full sleeves and long, flowing silhouette owes much of its inspiration to Pre-Raphaelite dress. The gown consists of a flared front panel attached to an open, flowing robe which falls from pleats at the back. The front panel has a patch pocket on the right side which is hidden by the deep plush edging.
Materials & Making
The puffed sleeves, wide cuffs and velvet edgings are inspired by plain, loose 16th century gowns. The sunflower and pomegranate motif on the fabric was a recurring design on objects associated with the Aesthetic Movement. The subtle gold and brown tones were popular ‘artistic’ colours used in both dress and furnishing fabrics during the 1890s.
Pre-Raphaelite painters had clothed their models in plain, loose dresses based on the forms of ‘early Medieval art’. The opening of Liberty’s dress department in 1884 helped popularise the taste for aesthetic dress. The Liberty designs which ranged from aesthetic gowns and children’s artistic dresses to more conventional ‘tea-gowns’ had a wide international appeal among the social elite.
Ownership & Use
This type of dress was seen as the healthy and aesthetic alternative to the corseted and constrictive fashions in conventional dress. Before long it was not only those with artistic leanings who chose to wear garments which fit more loosely. By the early 20th century many fashionable dresses had a softer shoulder line and a more natural silhouette.
Evening mantle from Le Bon Marché department store, 1900 France, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Emerald green evening mantle with black jet beading and diamante trim, cream chiffon and lace lining. Labeled: “Au Bon Marché, Maison A. Boucicaut, Paris.”
Hood, 18th century US (New England), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Hood with short cape attached. Cream-colored figured silk. Lined with cream-colored silk. Trimmed with bobbin lace. Some holes, stained and spotted.
Cape by B Altman & Co, 1900 New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Woman’s short cape made of black silk gimp and ribbon stitched into abstract, swirling pattern over a lining of black silk taffeta, finished at the bottom with fringe of ruched silk chiffon, wide black grosgrain ribbon bow and tie at the center front neckline, small band of white net at the collar. Labeled: “B. Altman and Co./ Paris/New York”
Women’s dressing gown by Iida Takashimaya, ca 1900 Japan (Kyoto, for the Western market), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Pink silk taffeta dressing gown in kimono style with embroidered naturalistic chrysanthemums and butterflies in polychrome silks. Silk plain weave lining, padded hem and pleat in back of robe. Full sleeves gathered at shoulders and trimmed with braided silk cord and tassles. Matching sash of pink silk taffeta with double-sided embroidery of chrysanthemums in green brown and pink polychrome silk with knotted silk fringe. Gown labeled: S. Iida “Takashimaya” Silks and Embroideries. Kyoto.
Caroline Ferdinanda Luise of Naples and Sicily by François Gérard, 1820-37 (ca early 1820’s) France, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
That coat. omg that coat.
Also, is anybody able to read the text? Is this an ad? I’d like to be able to tag it correctly if it is. It kind of is. Sort of.
Wrapper, ca 1855
The lot also includes a day dress (ca 1850), a spencer (ca 1820) and a bodice (ca 1800).
Click to go to the absentee bidding page. This Kerry Taylor auction will end October 16th at 2:00 PM GMT (9:00 AM EST). You will need to register to bid ahead of time.