Sack back and petticoat (1)


The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

A woman’s sack back and petticoat of cream-coloured ribbed silk, embroidered with polychrome silks and silver-gilt thread in a large scale design of floral and gothic motifs, including architectural elements, such as castles, houses and pavilions. Large peonies sprout from the roof of a ruined abbey flanked by pine trees, dominating a landscape set with three different cottages, cedar trees replete with cones, a Chinoiserie fence, and a pavilion with a flag flying, alternating with a giant flowering creeper poised upon Chinoiserie hillocks.

The sack back is open at the front with elbow-length sleeves and double sleeve ruffles. There are two, double box pleats at the back, stitched at the neck line. The bodice and sleeves are lined with linen. The bodice lining is open at the back, with whalebone on either side and lacing holes. The bodice lining fronts are edged with whalebone and lacing holes. The bodice is reinforced with four pieces of whalebone on either side.

Both sack back and petticoat are heavily pieced from a previous embroidery; it is not clear whether another item of clothing or a furnishing textile - neither is entirely consistent with its current form. It was first remade in the 1750s, based on the width of the petticoat and sack back skirts. The ensemble was worn for fancy dress, when the fringe, tassels, and spangle and purl medallions were added.

Conservation netting covers the sleeves and bodice.

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  • Title: Sack back and petticoat (1)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1735/1740
  • Location: England
  • Provenance: Given by Mrs Thornhill

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