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AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion

AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion

Bolton, Andrew, with an essay by Ian Buruma
160 pages
81 illustrations
Graphis Gold Award (2008)
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Anglomania gripped Europe during the mid-to-late eighteenth century. Continental Anglophiles such as Voltaire and Montesquieu saw England as a land of reason, freedom, and tolerance. Yet what began as an intellectual phenomenon became and has remained, a matter of style. Through the lens of fashion, AngloMania, based on the popular exhibition of the same name held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006, examines aspects of English culture that continue to capture the imaginations of Europeans and Americans, among them the class system, sport, royalty, pageantry, eccentricity, the gentleman, and the country garden. Englishness is a romantic construct, formed by fictive and imaginary narratives. These narratives are, however, not merely the product of European-American Anglophilia but are fostered by the English themselves. As this book reveals, they can be found in the novels of Samuel Richardson and in the paintings of George Stubbs and William Hogarth.

AngloMania presents historical costumes with clothing of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in a series of theatrical vignettes staged in the Museum's English Period Rooms. In the book, images of the Kirtlington Park Dining Room (ca. 1748), the venue for "The English Garden," teems with figures wearing eighteenth-century gowns made from Spitalfields silks and sporting twenty-first century hats by Philip Treacy. Although the gowns and hats are separated by time, they are united through their bold floral motifs that are startling in their botanical naturalism. The Lansdowne Dining Room (1776–79) becomes "The Gentlemen's Club," in which dandies, gentlemen, and punks, wearing designs by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, clash in a scene of Hogarthian intensity. Around the Hampton Court State Bed (ca. 1698), Queen Victoria in widow's weeds mourns the death of a figure wearing tartan trousers and an elaborately embroidered cape-jacket by Alexander McQueen.

The illuminating and entertaining texts, written by Andrew Bolton, are complemented by an introductory essay by Ian Buruma that traces the beginnings of the desire for all things British.

Suit, wool, silk, gold, British
Armorial panel with Stuart coat of arms, Limewood, parcel-silver and gilt, British
ca. 1685–88
Mirror, Gilt gesso, walnut and walnut veneer, gilt brass, glass, British
ca. 1720
Mantua, silk, metal, British
ca. 1708
Dress, silk, British
ca. 1725
Dress, silk, probably British
probably British
Robe à la française, silk, British
ca. 1760
Dress, silk, British
ca. 1765
Chandelier, John Gumley  British, Gilded wood and gesso; gilded metal mounts, British
John Gumley
James Moore
ca. 1710–15
Washerwomen, François Boucher  French, Oil on canvas
François Boucher
Shepherd's Idyll, François Boucher  French, Oil on canvas
François Boucher
Staircase from Cassiobury Park, Hertfordshire, Edward Pearce, Risers, treads: oak; balustrade friezes, finials: elm; newel posts, stringers, skirting, baluster bases, balusters, handrails: pine, British
Edward Pearce
ca. 1677–80
Court presentation suit, silk, British
Settee, Benjamin Goodison  British, Gilded gesso on walnut; previously covered in eighteenth-century blue silk damask not original to the settee, British
Benjamin Goodison
ca. 1730
Longcase clock, Jeremiah Johnson  British, Oak, walnut, brass, British, London
Jeremiah Johnson
ca. 1685
Mary Capel (1630–1715), Later Duchess of Beaufort, and Her Sister Elizabeth (1633–1678), Countess of Carnarvon, Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes)  Dutch, British, Oil on canvas
Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes)
Sir Henry Capel (1638–1696), Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes)  Dutch, British, Oil on canvas
Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes)
Princess Elizabeth (1596–1662), Later Queen of Bohemia, Robert Peake the Elder  British, Oil on canvas
Robert Peake the Elder
ca. 1606
State bed from Hampton Court, Herefordshire, Wood covered in blue silk damask, British
ca. 1698
"Bhutan", Manolo Blahnik  British, leather, metal, British
Manolo Blahnik
spring/summer 2006
Showing 20 of 89

View Citations

Bolton, Andrew. 2006. Anglomania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion [Exhibition, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 3 to Septembre 4, 2006]. New York: Metropolitan museum of art.