18th Century Stomacher Polychrome Silk Embroidered Circa 1720 RARE AF
A rare opportunity to acquire such an ancient example of early Georgian fashion as many of the surviving examples are held by museums or private collections. Although our 300 year old example has signs of its great age, we think that you will find it an exciting opportunity to own such an item.
Stomachers were an essential part of a lady's clothing during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was during this time that the fore runner to a boned corset was introduced. This undergarment was called stays. Stays were made of linen or silk with channels sewn into them to slide supporting rods of baleen (whalebone) or wood (called busks). Wearing this structured undergarment gave a lady a tight, narrow V shaped silhouette to the upper half of her body whilst creating support and a contrast to the fuller skirts of her lower body. It was fashionable for the outer bodice of a dress to be open at the front allowing for an inserted triangle of decorated silk cloth to be inserted. This triangle of cloth was called a stomacher which had a dual purpose - an area to show off ones wealth and status where expensive silk, metal threads and exquisite embroidery expressed such attributes, but more importantly to cover the plain linen or silk stay undergarment.
Our example dates from the early 18th century, circa 1720 period and although discovered here in England, we believe it to be Italian in origin. It has a plain woven silk ground with exquisitely embroidered trailing flowers in delicate shades of silk thread. We see roses and carnations (gilly flower), honeysuckle etc - all flowers that you would find on Elizabethan and Jacobean clothing, sweet bags and hangings. See our item TA10667A an original fragment of a Jacobean period lady's Coif (head cloth).With the firm remains of gold wrapped metal thread embroidery in the intricate latticed design; we also see to the sides, remains of the original two plain silk weave side tabs. Ties or silk side tabs were used to help secure the stomacher to the dress bodice and prevent it from slipping. Our example retains its original open weave canvas support backing and plain linen weave reverse. See similar on line stomacher examples at The Met museum and the LACMA, MFA and V&A museums.
Size: 14" long, widest point at the top 8.25", widest measurement at the fanned base 6"
Condition: This example shows much age and wear, and is by no means in museum display condition. Please read our FULL description and zoom and study our many images, requesting more if needed. This example is all but 300 years old, please allow it some imperfections after three centuries. The silk ground is fragile with signs of perishing/ insect damage. You can also see that there are tiny needle holes around the circumference where another probable border of metal thread braid once sat (rather than holes left from securing to the stays). The only remaining original border of metal braid can be found to the top, but this is loose and detached in parts. HOWEVER, the silk thread embroidery is a delight with a delicacy of design that is light and so very appealing. The metal thread embroidery is in good condition considering its vast age and the stomacher's elongated shape with the fan shaped base is very sought after.
This original 18th century stomacher is purely for adding to a collection and is in no way suitable or strong enough for use. It needs to be carefully preserved by storing flat and away from sunlight, insects and humidity. It will arrive very, very carefully flat wrapped in acid free tissue among much padding and packaging.
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