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Court train

Unknowncirca 1810

Centraal Museum

Centraal Museum
Utrecht, Netherlands

The lavender-coloured Manteau de Cour of moire silk in the collection of the Centraal Museum is the only example in the Netherlands to date of a court train from this period. The 305 centimetre-long train has a woven-in scatter motif and a border of vine leaves and stylised flower motifs. The train can be attached to a gown by means of a hook beneath the rosette on the back. This remarkable garment (without the gown) was presented to the Centraal Museum in 1975 by Baroness W.E. Taets van Amerongen-Rutgers van Rozenburg. Upon its transfer, she mentioned that the train derived from her ‘great-grandmother Elisabeth Both Hendriksen-Winter (1786-1809)’, respectively ‘of the court of Louis (?) Napoleon’. It is uncertain, however, whether detachable court trains were used in this period. Etiquette books from this time do not offer conclusive evidence: the Etiquette du Palais Royal de Hollande from 1808 does not explicitly mention such a train. The embroidered border with ivory-coloured chenille and pearl-coloured beads is remarkably broad, measuring 26 cm at its widest point. This may point to the garment’s royal origins, as the Cérémonial de l’Empire Français from 1805 states that all ladies granted access to the court wear a garment of the same form as that of the Empress and that, if the ladies choose to have an embroidered border, this may not exceed one decimetre in width. How credible is the claim that this garment was worn at the court of Louis Napoleon (1778-1846)? In 1806 Louis Napoleon became King of Holland. Four years previously he married Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837), the first Queen of Holland. Hortense paid a brief visit to Utrecht in early 1807. In 1810 she again visited Utrecht, where she stayed in the chambers furnished for her in the palace that Louis had created at the Drift/Wittevrouwenstraat. Audiences were held in Utrecht on 15 and 18 April, but it is impossible to determine who wore what at these occasions. In 1810 Louis renounced the Dutch throne. Their marriage was not a happy one: Louis went to live in Germany while Hortense and the children returned to France. If this court train did belong to her, it may have been left behind following her sudden departure on 23 April of that year.

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