Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Costume mysteries of the 17th and 18th century

I think anyone who look at clothes on the Net finds them, these odd or mysterious items that doesn't look quite like anything else. Or when the photos are so bad and the information so scant that you are just dying to know more about them. Here are my favourites.

Nordiska museet in Stockholm have long been my favourite culprit when it comes to teasing us costume nerds with bad information. Nordiska's collections are huge and they have very little money, so one can understand why just about 1/3 of their collection have found their way into the online database and not all of them have photos. It's very annoying nevertheless, especially as Nordiska has some clothes that seem to be pretty unique and really should be shown off for the world.

A gown from the 1690's in white, embrodered silk and black lace, stomacher in white embrodiered silk and petticoat in black lace. What is going on here? Carolina Brown in the book Mode, Kädedräktens historia i fem sekler, calls this a mantilj (mantilla) and it is really shaped like a shawl. there are no sewn sleeves, for example. Nordiska gives no information at all about this gown, and if it is dated correctly and hasn't been re-made later, (impssoble to say from a black-and-white photo) then it is something unique. I have never seen anything like it. Have you?

I think this is a mantua, dated to the early 18th century. It's in silk, but what about colour and, a picture of the front!

Embrodeired jacket, waistcoat and petticoat from the 18th century. The only information is that teh jacket has been shortened. But wh want to know more, don't we?

A childs gown from the 1660's. It can actually be found in the online database, but with no more information. Not to mention that that they have another 17th century child's gown, without a picture. 
LACMA has this 17th century ecclesiastical lay figure costume. And that is all they let us know.

Here the Museum of Fins Arts Boston (which also have a terrible search function ion their database, delights us with this description of a gown from around 1700:
"Blue silk damask brocaded with polychrome silks and metallic yarns in stylized floral motifs. High round neckline with small rounded wrap collar. Coat closure with two welted pockets; vertical and horizonal darts in bodice; metallic fringe at front line. Full-length sleeves with metallic cording ruching bands at elbows, asymmetrical slit cuffs. Skirt fullness gathered by deep inverted gore at dropped waistline. Cording ribbon randomly applied at side seams."
And annoys us with not showing any pictures of the front.

This picture is said to be a 17th century dressing gown. I would love it to be that way. However, it seems to originate from this page and as you can see it shares room with clothes that looks like they are modern reproduction with a mantua from the Metropolitan. None of the pictures are sourced properly. My gut feeling is that this is a not from the 17th century.

I would also love to know more about the 17th century clothes found in graves in Turku in Finland, especially a really lovely striped gown. Go and read the whole article for photos! In general costumes preserved at small museums with a limited budget gets very little attention. I am sure that there are a lot of costume treasures all over Europe that are just waiting to be discovered!


ZipZip said...

Dear Isis,
Well, each one of the above certainly is different...the lack of documentation or the misinformation is more evidence that we're all just human and sometimes we say, "Eh, let it go...".

Very best,


Isis said...

Natalie: Well, I just get more curious when something is mysterious, and wouldn't want to let go. :)

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