Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Robe à la Polonaise

Date:
ca. 1780
Culture:
British
Medium:
linen
Dimensions:
Length at CB: 72 in. (182.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gifts from Various Donors, 1998
Accession Number:
1998.314a, b
Not on view
The element of eighteenth-century fashion that we think of first is probably the court style. This linen dress of great beauty, and also of simplicity, provincialism, and even a degree of vulgarity compared to court dress, is most instructive. The bodice and skirt sewn together constitute a robe; a matching petticoat is worn underneath. Heavy linen, almost of a diaper weight and of great tactility, will always feel luxurious, but it also bears a common touch. Likewise, the floral appliqué is clumsy and garish, rather oversized for the dress, especially when compared with such refined examples as the embroidered cottons of the 1780s and 1790s of court style. But this country cousin possesses her own charm, and the dressmaking is sure. If a few roses loom too large and the reinforcement with metal sequins strikes one as grossly vernacular, one must remember that even high style in the emerging age of fashion plates and periodicals is not uniform and does not always conform to our ideal of good taste.
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