Art/ Collection/ Art Object


late 1760s
silk, linen, leather, wood, baleen
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. William Martine Weaver, 1950
Accession Number:
Not on view

The stays worn in the eighteenth century were a product of heavy labor. A male industry, staymaking was at a very high standard by the middle of the eighteenth century. Stays were made from baleen, which was harvested from the mouth of the Right Atlantic Whale and commonly referred to as whalebone. This material was firm but flexible and could be cut into very thin pieces without any loss of strength. Carefully measured strips of whalebone stitched between a lining and facing fabric created the stays of the eighteenth century. The rounded opening at the top of the stays was made through the innovation of inserting whalebone strips across the bustline as well as vertically. Stays could be fully boned or half-boned, but the latter was more common in the second half of the eighteenth century.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fashion and History: A Dialogue," December 7, 1992–March 21, 1993.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed," December 4, 2001–March 17, 2002.

Related Objects


Artist: Maison Léoty (French) Date: 1891 Medium: silk Accession: C.I.45.27a, b On view in:Not on view

Robe à l'Anglaise

Artist: Date: 1785–87
Accession Number: C.I.66.39a, b
Date: 1785–87 Medium: silk Accession: C.I.66.39a, b On view in:Gallery 899


Artist: Date: 1690–1700
Accession Number: 06.1344a, b
Date: 1690–1700 Medium: silk, leather Accession: 06.1344a, b On view in:Not on view


Artist: Date: ca. 1785
Accession Number: 1998.253.1
Date: ca. 1785 Medium: silk, linen Accession: 1998.253.1 On view in:Not on view


Artist: Date: ca. 1790
Accession Number: 2003.45a–c
Date: ca. 1790 Medium: a) silk; b,c) silk, linen Accession: 2003.45a–c On view in:Not on view