Stomacher (France), 18th century
Medium: silk and metallic (metal-wrapped silk core) embroidery on silk foundation, with flat metal strips, wire coils; linen backing Technique: embroidered in satin and stem stitches, couched flat metal strips, metal-wrapped silk, and flat strips with met. Bequest of Marian Hague. 1971-50-125
What is this?
Triangular stomacher in ivory silk, heavily embroidered in gold metallic yarns with scrolling leaves framing small buildings, and, in colored silks, a female figure with a rake over one shoulder, a male figure dozing, and a butterfly.
Why is this in our collection?
Stomachers were an important part of a women's dress from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. These stiff, triangular panels were usually highly ornamented with embroidery, ribbons, and jewels. The close-fitting bodices of women’s dresses were constructed with an open V in the front so that the stomacher could be pinned in place, and it could be changed for different styles or occasions.
The elaborate silk and metallic embroidery on this stomacher illustrates the importance of the pastoral themes in the French court of the Rococo period. For example, Louis XV often held court masque balls where courtiers would dress as shepherds and shepherdesses. Royal mistress Madame de Pompadour was known for her love of decorative arts with pastoral design schemes and pastoral-themed performances at the Théâtre des Petits Cabinets at Versailles.