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Object Timeline

1913

  • We acquired this object.

2012

2013

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2016

  • You found it!

Coat (France), ca. 1790

This is a Coat. It is dated ca. 1790 and we acquired it in 1913. Its medium is silk embroidery on silk foundation, silk lining and its technique is embroidered in satin, surface satin, stem and knot stitches with appliqué on plain weave foundation with supplementary warp and weft patterning; twill lining. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This coat, or habit, embodies aristocratic extravagance before the French Revolution. The habit was worn as part of the habit à la française, an early three-piece suit which also included a waistcoat (vest) and breeches. The embroidery is dense with large-scale flowers, scalloped ribbons, and tassels on a silk fabric woven with blue and black chevrons and stylized floral designs. This garment was produced by professionals: men wove the patterned silk fabric, women executed the à disposition embroidery, and a master tailor assembled the coat to fit. Coats such as this were cut to fit to the body closely, gradually curving backward from the mid-chest to the knee. It is thus maneuverable and emphasizes the smooth and flowing movements that French nobles considered pleasing and learned from dance instructors as children. Towards the end of the 18th century, a coat with this magnitude of decoration would only have been worn at exceptionally formal events.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled Maintaining a Pleasant Atmosphere.

This object was donated by Mrs. Edward C. Post. It is credited Gift of Mrs. Edward C. Post.

Our curators have highlighted 8 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

Its dimensions are

H x W: 124.5 x 69.9 cm (49 x 27 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Coat (France), ca. 1790; silk embroidery on silk foundation, silk lining; H x W: 124.5 x 69.9 cm (49 x 27 1/2 in.); Gift of Mrs. Edward C. Post; 1913-33-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18178841/ |title=Coat (France), ca. 1790 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=27 May 2016 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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