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Damask gown fragment, Martha Washington

1734-1740
Origin: England, Spitalfields; worn in Virginia
20 1/4" wide (full selvage width) X 40 1/2" long.
Silk damask, bound at hem and pocket slits with silk woven ribbon.
Gift of Mrs. R. Keith Kane & daughters: Mrs. James H. Scott, Jr., Mrs. Timothy Childs, Mrs. N., Beverly Tucker, Jr., and Mrs. Lockhart B. McGuire
Acc. No. 1975-342,1
Light brown silk damask fragment of a woman's gown skirt or petticoat, woven in large-scale pattern of asymmetrical scrolling flowers and leaves. The fragment is a full selvage width of 20 1/4", finished at bottom (original hem) with 3/4" wide silk tape. Cut edges at the top have original pleat lines. A 9" pocket slit is bound with 3/4" wide silk tape. Remnants of stitching threads remain in the seams.
Label:Gown Skirt Panel
Attributed to Anna Maria Garthwaite
Spitalfields, England, worn in Virginia, 1734-1740
Silk damask
G1975-342, 1, gift of Mrs. R. Keith Kane and daughters, Mrs. James H. Scott, Jr., Mrs. Lockhart B. McGuire, Mrs. Timothy W. Childs, and Mrs. N. Beverly Tucker, Jr.

Woven at Spitalfields, the silk-weaving district near London, the textile has a characteristically bold pattern over the full width of the 20 1/4-inch-wide fabric. According to family tradition, this panel came from a gown worn by Martha Washington (1731-1802). Because the textile dates to Martha Washington's childhood, the gown must have been passed down from a family member.

Provenance:Family tradition in the Dandridge/Henley/Kane family states that material came from gown owned by Martha Washington (Dandridge/Custis.) Fragments of the same material with Washington histories are in collection at Mount Vernon, confirming the family tradition. However, Martha's birth date of 1732 suggests that her gown was remade from an earlier one.