Men's Waistcoat Adorned with Pinwheels Gilet

Unknownca. 1790

Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Berlin, Germany

During the 1780s waistcoats became shorter and a straight line ending just above the hips came into fashion. These waistcoats, now called gilets, were no longer coordinated with the suit, but were now stylishly independent items of négligé clothing. In 1790 the stand-up collars, which initially remained short, became higher and gilets were provided with small lapels. The front panels were entirely decorated with small-scale patterns and the bottom portions were accented with special illustrations. Subjects were diverse, important political and social events were depicted as well as motifs from theatre, opera and antiquity. The decoration of this waistcoat is a virtuoso combination of decoration woven à disposition and embroidered patches. The woven pattern consists of mutually arranged, pinwheel-shaped, right-angled triangles. Its representation receives a striated character through the stepped colour gradient of the pattern-forming warp threads, which range from brown to red and rose to yellow. The pattern is disposed with on the front perimeter, the lower edge and the stripes over the pocket openings and these areas are instead embroidered in an antique-style motif. We see, alternately, a heron leaning over a bulbous vessel and fantastic architecture made up of scrolls, balls, hangers and beams. Only the embroidered parts of the gilet are made of creamcoloured silk taffeta. All the other parts, including the interior lining, consist of cotton flannel and two wide strips of this are also inserted between the front and back panels. Perhaps the tailor had to adapt the semi-finished product for a more heavy-set customer or extend the waistcoat at one point. The uppermost button, embroidered in a different pattern, was added later.


  • Title: Men's Waistcoat Adorned with Pinwheels Gilet
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: ca. 1790
  • Stylistic point of origin: France
  • Rights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Stephan Klonk │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Christine Waidenschlager
  • Provenance: 2003 Kamer/Ruf collection; 1998 antique dealer Ferrara, Italy, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Length: Fl./bl. 65 cm
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018417
  • Type: Waistcoat
  • External Link: http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/kunstgewerbemuseum/home.html
  • Medium: Cream coloured silk taffeta, multi-coloured lancé, multi-coloured silk embroidery, cream coloured cotton flannel

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