Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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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.
Doll’s bonnet, ca 1840 France, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Doll’s bonnet of dark blue satin faced with yellow taffeta with light blue ribbon ties, trimmed on top with wreath of artificial flowers, dark blue velvet ribbon, and blonde lace.
Bonnet by A Partridge & Co, ca 1840 Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
White silk bonnet, trimmed with net and lace in zig-zag pattern around edges, with pink silk ribbon arranged inside and forming ties. Label: “A Partridge and Co./Mode de Paris, 201 Washington St., Boston.”
Bonnet, 1860’s US, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
A bonnet of white satin trimmed with blue silk grosgrain piping ribbons and fringe ruching, small artificial rose buds and white silk lace around face. Worn by Luciana Foster, born August 19, 1841, who married Frank Tripp, October 16, 1861. Cf.: 46.1015, wedding dress.
Bonnet, 1800-05 France, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Bonnet. White silk with crossed tabs trimmed with cording over net lining at top; floss-covered buttons at sides and center. Heavier silk band twisted along edge; chenille and floss silk braid and net ruffles at edge. Pink silk ribbon bow on left side. Drawstring at back.
Bonnet, ca 1830 US, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Woman’s green silk hat with wide poke bonnet brim and high crown.
Bonnet, 1880’s France, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Cream felt bonnet with cream silk ribbon, white ostrich feather and maroon artificial flowers and leaves in front, ribbon ties (yellow discoloration on feather and brim)
Bonnet, ca 1867 Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
A small bonnet of white straw, designed to be worn on top of head, trimmed with lilac velvet folds and matching small artificial blossoms arranged in three bunches, lilac taffeta broad ribbon ties; lined with china silk and glazed book muslin, on china silk a gold printed label: “Mrs. B. E. Hastings, MODE., 13 Hayward Place”; an inked note found in bottom of box reading April 1867, Mrs. L. S. Dabney’s (?).
Half bonnet of green velvet, ca 1870 US, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
A half bonnet of green velvet, front edge with point in center, covered with gathered matching velvet, rosette bow of green satin ribbon on top, two sets of ties, one green satin, one green velvet.
Calash or hood, mid-19th century France (worn in Boston), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Woman’s brown padded calash with light blue lining; brown double ruffle around face; light blue taffeta ties; padded curtain at back; ribs possibly made from wood