Exhibitions/ Art Object

Dress (Robe à la Française)

ca. 1735 (restyled ca. 1770)
France; Textile: Possibly Dutch, ca. 1730
Brocaded satin with silk- and metal-wrapped thread
center back length: 63 in (160 cm)
Credit Line:
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection
Not on view
The Dutch brocaded satin of this dress dates to the 1730s, when designs with large patterns showing architectural motifs, genre scenes, and landscapes with enormous flowers were popular for dress fabrics. In this example, the rocky islands that bloom with fantastic oversized flora demonstrate a familiarity with printed chinoiserie designs. The prominence of the fanciful boats carrying Asian figures may refer to the crucial maritime links between Europe and the exotic East. Because of the enduring appeal of chinoiserie and the expense of the silk fabric, the dress was altered into this more form-fitting style about 1770.