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Robe à la Française

Date:
1750–75
Culture:
French
Medium:
silk
Dimensions:
(a) Length at CB: 69 in. (175.3 cm) (b) Length: 42 in. (106.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1954
Accession Number:
C.I.54.70a, b
Not on view
Growing out of the fantastical atmosphere of the eighteenth–century French aristocratic milieu, and conceived as often by ennui as by personal vanity, the fashions embodied by the ever-formal robe à la française were the product of an age that sought at any cost to convey extreme grace and aesthetic perfection. This piece is imbued with the luxury and ostentation inherent in the era's metallic embroidered silks and serpentine floral textile patterns. The playfulness of the delicate hand-painted silk taffeta sufficiently showcases the Watteau (after the eponymous artist), or sacque back of the robe, reinterpreted from the seventeenth–century gown to incorporate two expansive pleats from the neckline at back. Though this piece does not demonstrate the extremity of the eighteenth–century silhouette as required by French Court dress, it clearly champions panniers to support the gown and a tightly corseted bodice.
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