Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Robe à la Française

Credit Line:
Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1960
Accession Number:
C.I.60.40.2a, b
Not on view
Standard European silhouettes of the eighteenth century accommodated a world of change and specifically a changing world dominated by new textile techniques from Asia and the Middle East. This French textile emulates ikat (a technique in which yarns are tie-dyed before weaving) in a manner then known as a result of a geographic mistake as chiné. The softened edges of the ikat do not mitigate a bold textile design, nor do they entirely surrender to the authority of the Western shaping. Pinked-edge pleated and ruched self-fabric (see detail) trace the form of the open robe. An eighteenth-century template of dress is all but unchanging, yet the influence of new material requires a syncretism. In terms of eighteenth-century revivals, it is important to recognize how much the classic forms of eighteenth-century dress accommodated translations into arresting new textile forms in the 1760s and even the new textiles in the cottons of the 1780s.
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