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Robe à la Française

Date:
1740s
Culture:
British
Medium:
silk, pigment, linen
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.235a, b
Not on view
A perfect example of the robe à la française at mid-century, this hand-painted silk dress displays the opulence, Orientalism, and insatiable baroque excess of the time. Layers build on layers; flowers terrace out from the two-dimensional on the textile, to silk flowers, to nets laden with trapped flowers and floss. The silhouette is perfectly of the era: panniers dilate the hips; a narrow waist is achieved by the corset, which further pushes up and supports the bust. A deep décolletage is rendered more or less modest with insertions of bits of cloth, and the sleeves are finished with layers of engageants that are generally just basted in for easy detachment and washing and are thereby useful in keeping the valued dress clean.
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