COLLECTION: Costumes

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Woman's gown, block-printed cotton

1765-1775
Origin: Europe, possibly France
OL: 57" Waist approx 28" Textile 35 1/2" wide. Printed pattern repeat 14 5/8" vertically.
Cotton, block printed; linen lining; wool tape trim.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1954-67,1
Woman's gown (with matching petticoat, #2) made of plain-woven cotton block printed in a design consisting of clusters of flowers with buds and foliage on trunk-like stems, forming an undulating, all-over pattern. The textile is printed in madder colors (reds, purple and brown) with pencil blue (indigo). The gown has a fitted inner bodice of natural linen with center edge-to-edge closure fastening with hooks and eyes. The attached stomacher is trimmed with pleated robings arranged vertically at center and a separate band horizontally across top, forming a low, squared neckline. The separate band across the top bodice serves to hold in position a neck handkerchief. The gown is open from shoulder to hem at the front, trimmed down the fronts with pleated robings edged with narrow red wool tape (some replaced). Elbow-length sleeves have double flounces edged with red wool tape. The loose pleated sack back falls into a train. The gown is full at the sides, intended to be worn with small side hoops. Pocket slits are present at the side hips. The gown is fully lined with linen, some of it being a modern replacement.
Label:The block-printed design embellishing this gown features bold flowers on stems that form an undulating pattern across the surface. The reds, purple, and brown are created with madder dye and the blue accents are indigo later brushed on in the technique known known as penciling.

The gown has a graceful train falling from pleats at the back shoulders, a style known as a “sack” or “robe à la Française.” The front features an attached stomacher with a center-front closure and a flap at the top to hold a neck handkerchief in position.
Provenance:Purchased from New York-based textile dealer Mrs. Frank Howell Holden (Agnes), who wrote that she purchased it in Europe, possibly France: "I have just returned from six months in Europe & find that toile has almost disappeared. I did find an 18th C lady's costume in floral Toile de Jouy in its original Condition." Letter to John Graham, Colonial Williamsburg Curator, February 9, 1954.