Embroidered silk satin with silks, velvet appliqué, chenille, metal purl, swansdown
This magnificent embroidered panel was intended for a woman’s Court mantua. It shows the high standard of French needlework and the sequence of decorating and sewing up these opulent formal garments. A length of cream silk satin has had the outline of a panel drawn onto it, which has then been decorated to shape. When cut out and sewn, it would have formed the left side of the wearer’s train at the back of the mantua. The matching petticoat would have been embroidered with the same pattern.
The rich labour-intensive work shows 18th century French embroidery at its most complex. The cream satin ground has pink, mauve and green silk appliqué, folded to create the illusion of swagged fabric drapes. Swansdown, coloured metal threads, chenille embroidery, and small beads of padded satin add further detail and texture. The flowers are cut out of velvet and appliquéd, whilst the leaves and peacock feathers are embroidered.
Courtesy of V&A Collections, UK