Magnificently designed waistcoats were an essential part of the fashionable man’s wardrobe. This collarless and sleeveless waistcoat has an artistic embroidery of ascending vines with exotic flowers and fruit clusters in blue and cream tones. The generous use of flattened silver wire helps set the tone. Rounded pocket flaps demonstrate appropriately coordinated embroidery. This embroidery was inspired by Delftware designs that can be traced back to Asian motifs. The hip-length waistcoat, in a long and slightly curved shape that was fashionable up until 1750, has sideslits and front tails with wedge-shaped cutaways to the rear. The open back section in the middle consists of matching yellow linen and the waistcoat is entirely lined in natural-coloured linen. The arrangement of the pattern is unusual in that it positions the boldest flowers in the upper area of the chest and not in the lower part of the tails, as was the norm. Also remarkable are the pocket flaps, which do not conform to the pattern of the embroidery. This brings to mind the secondary use of a fabric that was perhaps originally part of an embroidered women’s garment. Two more waistcoats, also bright yellow, but with coloured embroidery, are in the possession of the Musée Galliera, Paris and the Gemeent, The Hague, while the Wurttemberg Landesmuseum owns a cream-coloured waistcoat with similar blue trim. (Cat. Paris 2005, cat. no. 1 and 2; Grönwoldt 1993, cat. no. 59)


  • Title: Men's Waistcoat
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 1740 - 1750
  • Stylistic point of origin: France/the Netherlands
  • 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; 1999 Art market, New York; 1998 Drouot, Paris, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Length: Fl./bl. 83 cm
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018417
  • Type: Waistcoat
  • External Link: http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/kunstgewerbemuseum/home.html
  • Medium: Lemon yellow ribbed silk; embroidery: cream and blue silk, flattened silver wire in chain stitch; lining: plain weave yellow linen

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