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Dress
1805-1810
Original Owner:Originally owned by Charlotte Perkins , American, 1790 - 1873
Dressmaker:Made by Unknown
Hand-stitched cotton muslin
Primary Dimensions (width at waist x length): 16 1/2 x 52in. (41.9 x 132.1cm) Hem (circumference): 67in. (170.2cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred H. Terry
Gallery Copy: White-on-white embroidery was admired as a particularly intricate and elite form of decorative needlework. It required not only expensive, bleached materials and fine stitching, but also keen eyesight, strong light, and clean hands. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, whitework became the favored embellishment for fashionable Grecian-style gowns, the latest fashion, with low necks and high waists. The neo-classical design at the skirt’s center front echoes the delicate swags on embroidered pictures, while the sheer gauze fabric (which required a solid color underdress to avoid indecent exposure) recalls the floating train on the Egyptian princess’s dress in Ruth Green Barber’s Moses picture.
Description: Woman's dress of sheer, white muslin embroidered with white cotton dots throughout and stylized floral garlands and sprays around the hem. The dress is styled with a very high waistline (1 3/8 inches below the armhole), a wide square neckline, and short, slightly puffed sleeves. The dress is entirely unlined. (A separate, reproduction pink underdress currently lines the dress). The closure is at center back, with a drawstring at the neckline and waistline. The skirt is flat in front and gathered in back. The sleeves are set into the armhole smoothly in front and slightly gathered in the back. The back dress bodice is narrow--about 6 1/2 inches from armscye seam to armscye seam. The fit of the top edge of the bodice front is controlled by a drawstring.
Historical Note: Miss Charlotte Perkins (1790-1873), daughter of Enoch and Anna Pitkin Perkins, may have worn this dress to the Hartford Dancing Assemblies in 1805.
Object Number: 1959.11.2
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