Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Museum deaccessioned metallic gold fancy dress waistcoat c 1878.  Stamped Maison Moreau D. Baron Successor.


This  is a Brooklyn Museum of Art deaccessioned metallic gold fancy dress waistcoat c 1878.  It is stamped Maison Moreau D. Baron Successor.  This house constructed costumes for masquerades held at the royal court of Napoleon III.  Fancy dress costumes were often an expensive undertaking, and this opulent piece is no exception.  

Woven with gold tone metal threads and accented with a polychrome floral matelasse pattern, brocaded in red and blue flowers.   The waistcoat is constructed in an 18th century style, collarless, and closes with three buttons at center front decorated with rhinestones.   Three matching buttons adorn each pocket flap.  The backing is a yellow glazed linen twill.  This is the 19th century's approach to the 18th century's textiles, with better technology and grander ideas.

chest:  38 inches (96.5 cm)
front length:  31 inches (79 cm)
Back Length:  23 inches  (58.5 cm)

Fancy dress has its origins in the popular masked balls of the 18th century.  Clearly big business, one 1898 book on dance entreats its readers "The best advice we can give is as follows:  If you intend appearing in fancy dress, be guided by some qualified costumier... as we are happily not all endowed with the artistic instinct, the costumier becomes absolutely necessary if we want to make a respectable appearance in a really striking fancy costume."   Madame Delphine Baron, at the helm of Maison Moreau, seems to have been just such a costumier.  The US report on the 1867 Paris Universal Exposition praises her display:  "A few choice specimens of historical and fancy costumes for both sexes were exhibited by Madame Delphine Baron, one of the eminent practitioners in the art of costuming, which is carried to so great perfection in Paris. Its successful practice in the higher grades requires no inconsiderable historical study, and calls in play really artistic qualities."


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