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Evening dress

Date:
1809
Culture:
French
Medium:
cotton
Dimensions:
Length at CB: 69 in. (175.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Theodora Wilbour, 1947
Accession Number:
2009.300.1806
  • Description

    Fine Indian mull was cherished in this period where the sheer quality was the most important aspect of everyday dress. This particular mull gown, with its tambour embroidery, would have been highly valued by its owner.

    The Empire silhouette is readily identified with its origins in the chiton of ancient Greco-Romans, which was a tubular garment draped from the shoulders and sometimes belted beneath the bust. Several re-interpretations have occurred throughout costume history but none have been as notable as the period bridging the rectangular panierred skirts of the 18th century and the conical hoop skirts of the 19th century. The neoclassic style was adopted in all forms of decoration after the French Revolution and was upheld during the Napoleonic Wars partly due to Napoleon Bonaparte's (1769-1821) alliance with Greco-Roman principles. In fashion, the style began as children's wear made from fine white cotton, but was adopted by women in the form of a tubular dress with skirts that were gathered under the bust with some fullness over a pad at the back. As the style progressed the skirts began to flatten at the front and solely gather from the bodice at the center back. The style persisted until the 1820s when the waist slowly lowered and the skirts became more bell shaped.

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    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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