Waistcoat, Uncut (France), 1780–95
This is a Waistcoat, uncut. It is dated 1780–95 and we acquired it in 1962. Its medium is silk and its technique is embroidered in satin, stem and knotted stitches on silk 7\1 satin foundation. It is a part of the Textiles department.
Throughout the 18th century, the waistcoat was one of the most elaborately decorated components of a man’s outfit. It was usually worn as a part of the habit à la française, an early form of the three-piece suit, which included a waistcoat, similar to a vest, a coat (habit), and breeches. This outfit was appropriate for formal and some informal social occasions. At this point in the century, the waistcoat extended to the level of the hips, and often did not match the other elements of the outfit.
This uncut embroidered panel includes two fronts, attached pocket flaps, button covers, and the collar and lapels in the upper corners. The waistcoat would have been purchased in this form from an embroidery workshop, and a tailor would cut out the pieces and assemble and line the finished product to order. The playful design features various exotic plants and flowers and monkeys drinking rum and playing music. The popular theme of monkeys assuming human roles, called singerie (monkey trick), was part of the 18th-century vogue for imaginary and exotic representations of the distant eastern world.
This object was
Richard Cranch Greenleaf (American, 1887–1961).
It is credited
Bequest of Richard Cranch Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf.
Its dimensions are
H x W x D: 72.7 × 55.6 cm (28 5/8 × 21 7/8 in.)
Cite this object as
Waistcoat, Uncut (France), 1780–95; Previously owned by George Saville Seligman ; silk; H x W x D: 72.7 × 55.6 cm (28 5/8 × 21 7/8 in.); Bequest of Richard Cranch Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf; 1962-54-31