English, c. 1760
Spitalfield’s silk brocaded lustring
Gift of the Arizona Costume Institute 1983.c.94.A-B
“Spitalfields, once the site of a twelfth-century hospital and previously known as “Hospital Fields,” became a refuge for Protestant weavers fleeing religious persecution after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The woven silks that these artisans produced throughout the eighteenth century were renowned for their fineness and beauty. In 1756 one commentator remarked of the patterns produced by Spitalfields and others, “The spring opens her bountiful treasure every year, and clothes and enamels the earth with endless charms of beauty; she invites us to imitate her as near as possible in all her splendor… what should be the reason manufacturers should not exert their skill in furnishing ladies with dresses suitable to Spring, and garnish them with the sweet blossoms and flowers that season affords.”
This robe à la française is made of a brocaded lustring, typical of Spitalfields design and quality. Lustring, a light crisp silk woven in a fine tabby, attained its high sheen through a particular treatment of the warp (lengthwise yarns). First coated with beer, the warp was then stretched and heated before weaving to impart crispness and shine to the fabric. Silk brocades, in which separate wefts form the all over, interwoven design of the raised motif, were one of the most widely used fabrics of the eighteenth-century. The most important and expensive part of an eighteenth-century dress was the textile, fineness in construction being the least important and least expensive.
This piece was worn for appearance at court or other formal occasions. It consists of an overdress with a closed bodice and open skirt that allows the separate petticoat or skirt to show.”
Song of the Wave by Khalil Gibran
… Alas! Sleeplessness has weakened me!
But I am a lover, and the truth of love
I may be weary, but I shall never die.
YELLOW SILK PROMENADE DRESS & HAT, c. 1900
2-piece dress & hat: yellow figured silk bodice, cream lace yoke & high neck, black lace applied bands, white chiffon w/ black velvet ribbon shoulder scarf, yellow silk faille skirt w/ black velvet ribbon trim, black straw hat w/ cloth flowers & silkribbon, B 32”, W 23”, Skirt L 42”-47”, (light stains on skirt, waistband unstitched at CB) very good.
Of course the Met would own this treasure.
Pair of gloves, ca. 1600
Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper
Portraits from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries are replete with minutely detailed representations of garments and accessories decorated with emblematic motifs. The gauntlets of these gloves are embroidered with motifs which also appear on other objects made in the late Elizabethan era—a disembodied eye raining pale blue and silver tears, a colorful pansy flower, and a bright green parrot with pearls on its wings. The weeping eye is related to a contemporary emblem book, Henry Peacham’s Minerva Britanna, or A Garden of Heroical Devises of 1612, though this motif was known as a symbol of unrequited love well before the publication of Peacham’s book.
The pansy, watered by the tears of the weeping eye, was a popular flower in the Elizabethan era. It was known to be a favorite of the queen herself and the pansy continued to appear in embroidery well into the seventeenth century.
Despite the present fragile and somewhat degraded condition of these gloves, they retain enough of their sumptuous embroidery to convey the luxury of the highest quality needlework of the late Tudor and early Stuart era.
“The silk relief peacock feather brocade of the curtains and wall-hangings in Marie Antoinette’s bed chamber in Versailles.”
Other samples of textiles from Marie Antoinette’s various apartments.
“American or European silk spencer, 1810-1815. The tiny bodice and raised waistline echoed the lines of the gown it was to be worn with.”
This looks so ridiculously easy to make! Since the extant garment won’t go get in my closet, I’m going to make my own. In robin’s egg blue.