Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Embroidered in China for the 18th Century Dutch Woman of Fashion

In passing I came across a fascinating article in the Gemeente Museum in the Hague. Upper class women's gowns in the third quarter of the 18th century usually consisted of a long skirt with a petticoat. However, such Netherlandish families who were connected by marriage to the English tended to wear the mantua. Starting in the early 17th century, it continued to be worn for special and gala occasions, for example, as a bridal dress. The mantua consisted of an overgown which was draped over a decorated underskirt. This particular white satin mantua was actually embroidered on-demand in China to European patterns. In this respect, it recalls very much the process by which imported porcelain from China was decorated to order in China again to patterns specified by the European importers. And it is probable, in their turn, that home embroiderers in the Netherlands and Britain were influenced and inspired by the Chinese embroidery skills and techniques.

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