Jacket of infant boy’s skeleton suit - ROM2011_12389_23


Jacket of infant boy’s skeleton suit

Medium:Stormont ground printed with pinned roller on cotton tabby
Geography: Ireland
Date: 1789-1792
33 x 52.5 cm
Object number: 2000.55.1.1
Credit Line: This acquisition was made possible by the generous support of the Textile Endowment Fund.
Not on view

The close-fitting boy’s skeleton suit was a new English garment in the 1780s. It was worn in the child’s “age of Nature” (age 2-12) as described by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his novel Émile (1762). Unlike adult masculine dress, the trousers were cut high in the back and loose in the leg (not buckled at the knee as were breeches), and buttoned onto the jacket that was cut straight in the back (no tails). A linen or cotton shirt with a large frilled collar left open at the neck (no cravat or lace) was worn underneath. The child’s hair was worn natural and shoulder length (no wig).

This suit may have been worn by Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, Lord Milton, later 5th Earl Fitzwilliam, who was born in 1786 and died in 1857. He was the son of Lady Louisa Ponsonby (c. 1750-1822) and William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam (1748-1733), Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 

Speckled Stormont ground textiles became fashionable in the 1780s. The textile was printed with brass pins placed in a block or roller creating a finer pattern than could be carved by hand. The resulting mottled effect was especially appropriate for this child’s costume as it would disguise dirt and grime.

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