Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Court dress

ca. 1750
silk, metallic thread
Credit Line:
Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1965
Accession Number:
Not on view
In the eighteenth century, formal dress was so closely associated with Versailles and the French court that it was universally described as the robe à la française. The robe à la française has a fitted overdress which is open at the frontand has a decorative bodice insert called a stomacher covering the corset and an underskirt, the petticoat, showing under the splayed drapery of the overskirt.

In its most formal configuration, the robe à la française presented a particularly wide and flattened profile accomplished by enlarged panniers. Constructed of supple bent wands of willow or whalebone and covered in linen, panniers took on broader or narrower silhouettes. The most remarkable held out the skirts like sandwich boards, barely wider than the body in side view but as expansive as possible in front or rear view. A woman so garbed had to pass through a door sideways.
Related Objects


Date: ca. 1760 Medium: silk, linen, cotton Accession: 1996.374a–c On view in:Not on view

Robe à la Française

Date: 1740s Medium: silk, pigment, linen Accession: 1995.235a, b On view in:Not on view


Artist: Textile by Anna Maria Garthwaite (British, 1690–1763) Date: 1747 Medium: silk, wool, metallic Accession: C.I.66.14.2 On view in:Not on view

Riding coat

Date: ca. 1760 Medium: silk, goat hair Accession: 1976.147.1 On view in:Not on view

"Oyster Dress"

Artist: Alexander McQueen (British, founded 1992) Date: spring/summer 2003 Medium: silk Accession: 2003.462 On view in:Not on view