This informal dress is transformed by the fanciful crewelwork, or wool embroidery, on a linen ground depicting exotic figures representing the Four Continents amid exuberant flowers, fruits, and birds. Among the architectural elements are small pagodas, which came to symbolize the Far East in the European decorative arts. The exotic structures became part of the European design vocabulary after Johan Nieuhoff published his illustrated catalogue of observations on Peking in 1665. The theatrical character of the embroidery may indicate that this dress was meant to be worn to a masquerade, a European social event in which exotic and idiosyncratic costume reigned supreme.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Our New Clothes: Acquisitions of the 1990s," April 6, 1999–August 22, 1999.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Ceaseless Century," September 9, 1998–November 29, 1998.