1750's Images

A little Cluster of Images from the 1750's with notes:

Robe a la Francais c.1750-75 - Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Robe a la Francais c.1750-75. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

- Pink open gown with stomacher in the French style (robe a la Francais). It looks like this gown might possibly has robings on either side of the opening on the bodice despite the heavy trim, but it's really hard to tell. If you have a look at the above image there is definite lapping on the shoulder above the sleeve that suggests a robing but then if you have a look, just slightly to the left of the left hand side on the bodice where there should be more signs of robings, there's nothing obvious. In a close-up zoom there's what appears to be a vague hint to a line running down but if so then they have expertly matched up this robing right in the middle of the flower detail. Has anyone see this gown in person? Do they know?
- From a different shot I have of this gown there are two ruffles ending the sleeve.
- Met mus of art gives us two measurements: CB petticoat - 56"
                                                                    CB Skirt - 38"
- The trim is beautiful - I've only got a pathetically small image of it but I'll try and update it once I've done some more research. I'm not big on my different types of embroidery but I'd say it looks similar to chenille or stump work and maybe using ribbons to create the deep effect.
- There are three layers of this trim on the Petticoat and one very deep.
- There are two layers of this trim running parallel to the edge on the skirt.
- Stomacher is heavily embroidered with this same trim.


- It is the Coronation gown of Queen Lovisa Ulrika of Sweden.
- Silver Mantua-styled dress with round, low neckline very similar to mid 1600's style of neckline. Known as the Stiff Bodied Gown, the bodice part was fully Boned (generally) and was very similar to a pair of Stays. In a letter from the period they even get referred to as 'Stays'.
- A reader has messaged in saying it is 3 parts - Skirt, Train and Boned Bodice with Sleeves.
- Worn over Fan Hoops with a fair bit of fullness at CF. 
- Top, Mantua Style skirt drapes over Petticoat at a very shallow angle with decorated front edges. It looks like this top skirt is attached with gathers to the bodice. It is likely this top skirt trains at the back.
- Sleeves are heavily ruffled with either lace or self fabric.
- Silver was the main colour (or atleast would appear on the gown at some point) for wedding dresses, so it likely this gown was for a wedding or special occasion. I just got this image off another person's blog so I might have to do a bit more research and find out the details.


- Sack Back gown (Robe a la Francais) over Fan Hoop with petticoat,
- Yellow with Metallic looking trim.
- Interesting arrangement on front of Stomacher. There seems to be a large CF Top Bow  and then some bow-like decorations going down the front - similar to Echelle Fronts but not the same. Don't know if I'd like to call the top bow a Breast  Knot - as in a seperate bow sewn individaully on- Because I don't think the Stomacher's designed to not have that bow there if you see what I mean.The idea behind the Breast Knot was that it was an additional, removeable knot. I may be wrong.
- Three quite sparing but long ruffles on the sleeves finished in a narrower braid.
- This dress has quite a strict looking angular hint to it - brings to mind the Tudor style dresses with their harsh angles. This may be due to the fact that it has trim down the edges of the front Skirt and Bodice which helps accentuate this line.
- Fairly neat and well kept lines - this dress is not a very full skirted dress in the sense of lots of looser folds but well contained and designed to be neat.
Back View.

Mr and Mrs Kirby - Gainsborough - 1751-52

- It's an interesting image and one that's similar to 'Mr and Mrs Carter' in the 1740's page. You can clearly see the gap from the join in the side panniers and how relatively loose her sack back is and her sleeves compared to later dresses. 
- She also has a matching petticoat. 
- Mr Kirby, also an artist and a friend to Gainsborough is wearing his stockings under his breeches. His waistcoat is buttoned up fully with a white cravat spilling out over the top.
- Mrs Kirby is also wearing long, not-so-gathered ruffles that are either from her shift or are sewn onto her sleeve, which also seems to be sporting no distinct cuff but maybe a loose gathering of the fabric if anything. The length of her ruffles fall quite far down her arm.

The Gravenor Family - Gainsborough - 1754

- In this painting (viewing the close-up version) both girls are wearing gentle cuffs with what looks like a ruffle coming directly from their shifts. This is most clear on the Centre front girl. 
- The orange girl in the back ground wears a pair of panniers and has on what looks like the traditional child's dress on which is the closed gown with closed fronted bodice. I've never seen a pattern for these childrens dresses and can only imagine they laced up at the back.
- There is a painting by Hogarth with two children in a theatre from the 1730's. One of the girls has her back to the viewer and you can see what almost looks like the old-fashioned way of putting a zip in. Obviously it isn't this but represents some form of closing that is covered by the overlap. For an image of the painting please see the 1730's page.

Mrs Hugh Bonfoy - Reynolds - 1754

- Leaving the actual gown aside for a moment, we'll just start with some of the smaller details.
- For example - the Cuffs are stunning. Full and looking like Winged Cuff her sleeves, are actually not cut the same way as a Winged Cuff but is actually a fully formed Cuff with what looks to have a few small pleats at the front to throw into the cuff that gathered look. It'd be interesting to see how these cuffs have been cut and what was seen from the top side as they naturally would have hung down a little with the weight and size of the Cuff.
- She has Long, even lengthed ruffles which we imagine are sewn on - They are a bit long practically, to be coming directly from the Shift.
- She wears a Peachy coloured Breast Knot (Cunnington's).
- And her sleeves look a good match for the 50s - being not too baggy but not tight either.
- Ok. Now to the gown! It has some interesting features and we're not really sure what to call it. 
- It looks to well fitted to be a Wrapping Gown from earlier decades which ladies loved to lounge about in in earlier portraits and yet it still carries some of the same romanticism about it.
- She apparantly has no waist seam or CF form of closure. The appearance is that the whole thing is one complete gown, fitting well over the bodice and flowing down into the skirts. We obviously need to do more research into this but in our understanding of 18th c dresses at the moment this is quite rare. It's possible it's a painting done with a theme - romantic or Vandyked (as the called it) but apart from the gown not many other features in it really give weight to that. Well, we say that, but we can see probably 2. The peachey-gauzy scarf/ribbon that cascades from off her shoulder and down, zig-zagging over the bodice. That harps back to early 1700s. And the background - it's a romantic type of setting. Sorry to not be more distinct and perhaps we can add more in the future when we find out more about her.

Robe a la Francais - 1750 - Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Back View

Front View


- We are assuming that this gown must've had a matching Stomacher at some point. We don't think dresses were ever seen fastening at the CF like unless they didn't fit. But the fact that it fits on the mannequin while doing this suggests the lady was a fair bit bigger than a size 12. ... Hmm...unless it's been altered.
- The sack is very neat but still come to, by the looks of it, just passed the back neck facing. It seems the general progress of the sack through the 1700s was to come from very loose and uncontrolled sacks; the pleats covering the whole back, to being much more contained and controlled and narrower at the top in proportion to where they'd sit in the middle of the back.
- The furbelow trim is interesting. It looks like it's been box pleated (we can't zoom in much closer to get a better look) and seems to either have a dense, contained fly braid running the length of it at either side to give it that edge that we can make out, or it's been finished with a bit of silk to give it an edging. We've seen this done before. It gives a real defined look to the furbelow.

Ann Fanshaw's dress made 1750-51 - Museum of London:
Front View
- Full Dress or Court Mantua
- A soft bodied gown with single robings.
- Closed Petticoat appearing as Main Skirt
- Train from Bodice being tucked over wide hips and trailing behind - typical of these late mantuas.
- Matching Stomacher.
- Metallic/Silver lace/ Braid Trim.
- 3 x Ruffle with heavy braid/Lace trim.
- The Back is strange - I've never seen a court mantua up close before but this back part of the bodice seems to part fall out similar to a sack but right down by the waist adn literally behind the apparant faux back of the Anglais' style pleats. Which wouldn't make it like an Anglais more like a fitted bodice. In one of the pictures below you can see how it sort of sits out away from the back of the dress. It also has, as I think part of the section that comes round from the front, a bow or atleast a fold as decoration/detail at the waist back. 
- There seems to be a button at the side back probably for the folding over of this back detail.
- It really does appear at the CB sits out and stops above this back detail - see the image titled 'Close Up of Back'.
- Narrow = very narrow hooped petticoat spreading out in the front view as a massive Fan shaped Hoop. Fantastic.
Back Detail

Stomacher and Close up of Front

Side View

Full Back View

Sleeve and Back Close-up


Close up of Back


  1. Nice blog!

    The 1751 silver gown above is the coronation gown of queen Lovisa Ulrika of Sweden. It's a court gown, in three parts - skirt, train, and a fully boned, back lacing bodice.

  2. Thanks hun - I'll put those details in. Since writing this I've been doing more studying of the Stiff Bodied Gowns, before that they were definitely a bit of a mystery! Thanks for your msg.