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Mourning dress

Date:
1872–74
Culture:
American
Medium:
silk, cotton
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Clarence E. Van Buren, 1944
Accession Number:
2009.300.673a, b
Not on view
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. This half mourning dress shows the care with which additional colors were implemented in mourning attire with the white accents carefully placed to not overwhelm the black and create a visually appealing transitional garment.
Marking: Inscribed on bodice lining: "Cunningham"
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