Robe en fourreau or robe à l’anglaise or grand habit (court dress) - ROM2008_10349_20


Robe en fourreau or robe à l’anglaise or grand habit (court dress)

Maker: Attributed to Marie-Jean "Rose" Bertin (French couturière, 1747-1813)
Medium:Embroidered satin with ribbon appliqués, sequins, faceted glass stones mounted on silver facings, and silver filé; fitted, boned bodice
Geography: France
Date: 1780's, altered in 1870's
Period: Louis XVI (r. 1774-1791)
Object number: 925.18.3.A-B
Not on view

Grand habit or court robe with train, en fourreau (a fitted back), and petticoat. Said to be made by Marie-Jeanne “Rose” Bertin for the wardrobe of Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France. At Versailles, court dress was obligatory for balls and formal events. This dress was originally designed to be worn with the support of wide panniers (side hoops) under the garment, a style that conspicuously demonstrated the luxury of the splendid embroidery on the petticoat and the long court train. The lavish and beautifully-worked embroidery scheme was designed and produced by professionals. It was time-consuming and very costly, making the dress affordable to only a very wealthy client. The intellectual spirit of the Enlightenment, and particularly the writings of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) on humanity’s relationship to nature and science, are reflected in the careful and studied designs for the embroidery motifs on the gown. Various kinds of gold thread are used to create texture and shading. One of these, called clinquant plissé, consists of flat pleated metal strips. Another gold thread, called bouillon, consists of a silk thread wrapped in a thin metal coil. The dress was purchased in 1925 by the ROM’s founding director, Charles Trick Currelly, from a London antiques dealer who noted that it was made by “Mde Bertin, Court dressmaker to Marie-Antoinette and must have cost hundreds of pounds to make… it is truly wonderful….”

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