The style and decoration of this gown characterise women’s fashion of the early 1760s. Adorning the front are wide strips of silk, the raw edges pinked and scalloped. These have been gathered and sewn on in serpentine curves. A narrow strip of gathered silk and an elaborate white silk braid further enrich the decorative effect. The curvilinear arrangement of this appliqué reflects the principles of Rococo design.

The gown has been made from a floral patterned silk woven in Spitalfields, London. In the article on silk designing from a contemporary handbook to art and manufacture, George Smith's Laboratory or School of Arts, the author recommends that pattern-drawers should take advantage of the seasonal variety offered by nature. 'Every season of the year produces .... plants, flowers and shrubs, as afford greater varieties than we are able to imitate. Summer will in like manner furnish a manufacturer with a vast variety of new and beautiful objects...and the produce of flowers thereof...will charm the eye.' The naturalistic drawing of the flowers in this dress fabric, including honeysuckle and rosebuds, illustrates this characteristic of English silks very well.


  • Title: Sack-back
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1755/1760
  • Location: Spitalfields
  • Physical Dimensions: Width: 50.5 cm silk, selvedge to selvedge
  • Medium: Silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread; hand-woven, hand-sewn

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