Saturday, December 12, 2015

Robe a l'anglaise with woven floral silk

From the seller:

An exquisite embroidered silk gown dating to about 1775. It is of the style known as a Robe a la Polonaise and is scattered with hand embroidered flowers. The beautiful colour of the silk is difficult to describe. It is a mixture of pale blue, eau de nil and very pale grey - almosted a muted duck egg blue. Superb!
The bodice is fitted with front closure and the skirt, which has a vast amount of silk fabric, flows out at the back in a short train. This is to accomodate the "Polonaise", when the skirt could be lifted by attaching fine cords to the inside of the skirt through small loops (loops still present). The cords are missing, but these could be replaced. The skirt would, of course have had a matching or contrasting petticoat. The one I have shown is not ideal, but it is just to give an idea of how the skirt hangs, and the front opening. The lovely wide band of toning silk which is on the inside of the hem would have shown when the skirt was "kilted" up. However, the dress could of course be left "as is" without creating a Polonaise.
The bodice and sleeves of the gown are lined in fine linen, and there are pocket slits either side of the skirt. The bodice would have had ties but these are no longer present. The floral embroidery was probably worked after the gown had been cut out, but before assembly. Interestingly, one of the flowers on the side was overlooked so one only sees the floral transfer marking - a 240 year old human error! One wonders why this was never noticed. It is not a detraction, but a rather sweet human touch.
This superb gown is in excellent condition.The enchanting silk is strong, rich and crisp. I can't get over the wonderful shade of colouring!

There is a small and slight round pale outline mark at the waist - perhaps a piece of fob jewellery or similar was worn by the lady. There are no under-arm marks or shattering, so often present on early gowns, and I can find no damage to the silk at all.
This is a wonderful gown, and just needs a petticoat in a suitable contrasting shade to complete the outfit.

Approximate measurements: 33" bust. 23" waist.

From Me:

Well, this isn't a polonaise - the style is all wrong for that.

1784 Fashion Plate

In the fashion plate above, the anglaise has a bit of a train to it - I suspect this extant dress was very similar in style when worn. I also think it's slightly later than the 1775 date. However, the shorter sleeves do keep it in the 1770's - maybe 1778 as that's when you start to see trains on Robe a l'anglaise and not just on the Francaise.

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