Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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4 / Ceremony and Society

Court Dress
Court Dress
Artist / Origin British artist
Region: Europe
Date ca. 1750
Material Blue silk taffeta brocaded with silver thread
Dimensions Length at CB (a): 49 in. (124.5 cm) Length at CB (b): 37 in. (94 cm) Length (c): 11 in. (27.9 cm)
Location The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Credit Courtesy of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Irene Lewisohn Bequest

expert perspective

Andrew BoltonAssociate Curator, The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Court Dress

» British artist

expert perspective

Andrew Bolton Andrew Bolton Associate Curator, The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

When you come to formal and ceremonial clothing, it’s much more about spectacle and ceremony. So practicality is less a function of clothing than it is about showing off one’s wealth, showing off one’s position.

In the eighteenth century women had to, literally, had to bend from their hips in a way, the bottom of the waist didn’t actually get any movement. And it was reinforced by what you call a ‘busk,’ which, again, kept you more rigid.

And there was no practicality in that. That was really about trying to achieve an ideal form of beauty. The corset and the pannier are very much about trying to evoke an ideal form of beauty that was very much fashionable in the eighteenth century. Less about practicality and more about idealism.” 

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