Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Dr. Ruth M. Bakwin, 1961
Not on view
Associated with royalty and symbolizing beauty, immortality and exoticism, the peacock has long been a favorite motif of artists. Particularly during the Art Nouveau movement, designers incorporated the birds into their work, inspired by the creatures’ sinuous bodies and showy feathers. In this gown, by the little-known Parisian house of Weeks, both printed and embroidered peacock motifs enliven the skirt and bodice. The metallic threads of the embroidery add a shimmery quality to the bodice, while the blue and green colors of the birds are picked up in the sash, sleeve ends and hem band. In an additional couture touch, the printed textile has been cut and pieced to form the sleeves of the dress, giving the appearance that a different yet precisely matched fabric has been used. Worn by Mrs. Francis Neilson (née Helen Swift), daughter of the founder of Swift & Company, the dress was undoubtedly purchased during a trip abroad in 1910.