manteau-or not (inc patterns)

We tend to think of all open robes of the 1680s to early eighteenth century as “mantua” or “manteau.” However there are at least two documentable pattern types to over gowns of this era.

The mantua as often described is a garment with a very unique construction. It puts all the side skirt shaping on a single wedge of fabric, made of several widths of fabric, entirely in line with the front panels.

To create my own pattern I collected and redrew every pattern of an extant garment published and redrew them to the same scale (1/4) and overlaid them to understand the interplay between each pattern piece. I ignored facings, cuffs, and petticoats and focused on the over garments.

All current “mantua” patterns overlaid to show the proportions of each.

Most garments with a straight front and back seam allow for narrower extensions on the front and back of the skirts, and this is true from the sixteenth century to modern times. The four gore skirt is built on this basic shape.

This distinction does seem to be borne out by Holme who wrote of garments made by a tailor and does differentiate between a gown and a mantua, later explaining that they are equally diverse:

“Of the Taylor, with the parts of the Doublet, Coat, Breeches, Cloak, Womens Gowns, Mantues, Wastcoats, and Petticoats… Of the Semster, Laundress, Needle-work Mistress, with the severall terms of Needle-work.

The academy of armory, or, A storehouse of armory and blazon containing the several variety of created beings, and how born in coats of arms, both foreign and domestick : with the instruments used in all trades and sciences, together with their their terms of art : also the etymologies, definitions, and historical observations on the same, explicated and explained according to our modern language : very usefel [sic] for all gentlemen, scholars, divines, and all such as desire any knowledge in arts and sciencesHolme, Randle, 1627-1699. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A44230.0001.001/1:7.3.3?rgn=div3;view=fulltext

This more traditional and sustained pattern type of dividing the side fullness between the front and back can be seen in the patterns of Albayzeta from 1720. Included are several “ropa de levantar.”

edited from: Geometria y trazas pertenecientes al oficio de sastres donde se contiene el modo y orden de cortar todo genero de vestidos españoles, y algunos Estrangeros, sacandolos de qualquier ancharia de tela, por la Vara de Aragon y explicada esta con todas las de estos Reynos, y las medidas que usan en otras Provincias estrangeras
Front Cover
Juan Albayzeta
por Francisco Revilla, 1720 – 95 pages

https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=LOPc3rKe1-gC

This pattern appears to be for a garment with a very long train, though there seems to also be a secondary hemline drawn where the skirt back would just touch the ground- most of the patterns for “rope de levantar of this book are of the shorter type.

Of the extant garments that have been patterned the Danish gown most closely resembles this. This garment has not been digitised and is not currently on display.

Moden i 1700-årene
Author: Ellen Andersen
Publisher: [København] : Nationalmuseet, cop. 1977.
Series: Danske dragter

https://www.worldcat.org/title/moden-i-1700-arene/oclc/835178454?referer=di&ht=edition

It is possible to see the seam lines in the first photo that confirms the pattern draft that puts narrow wedges on both the side front and side back seams.

(ETA photos of details:)

My redrawing after a pattern in Moden i 1700-årene by Ellen Andersen

Moden i 1700-årene
Author: Ellen Andersen
Publisher: [København] : Nationalmuseet, cop. 1977.
Series: Danske dragter

https://www.worldcat.org/title/moden-i-1700-arene/oclc/835178454?referer=di&ht=edition

This also seems to be the construction of a Norwegian garment that shares the same heavily pleated sleeve shape.

There is an open robe in Norway’s National Museum that seems to be of the same construction but is in fact a single wedge each side but it is in line with the back panel.

Datering: Ca. 1720
Betegnelse: Drakt
Inventarnr.: OK-dep-01160
Eier og samling: Nasjonalmuseet, Designsamlingene
Foto: Nasjonalmuseet / Larsen, Frode Last ned.

http://samling.nasjonalmuseet.no/no/object/OK-dep-01160

It seems to be fairly unique to this garment to align the single wedges to the back. Could this be a mistake- many dresses of the nineteenth century have the gores reversed at the sides- or deliberate. The skirt is narrow and is worn with a very solid and full underskirt. This arrangement could mean the best display of the brocade pattern was at the side back.

(ETA: detail photos of the grainlines)

Of the mantua type we are left with several garments in both English and American museums.

The earliest example appears to be the Kimberley gown held at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The earliest date appears to be 1695.

Mantua
Date:late 17th century
Culture:British
Medium:wool, metal thread
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1933
Accession Number:33.54a, b

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/81718

This garment has been pattern by both Nora Waugh and Blanche Payne, they differ slightly but the principle is the same and in both patterns the side fullness is entirely in line with the front panel.

My redrawing after a pattern in The Cut of Women’s Clothes, 1600-1930 by Norah Waugh- note there is no join line in this draft.

The cut of women’s clothes, 1600-1930
Author: Norah Waugh; Margaret Woodward
Publisher: New York : Routledge : Theatre Arts Books, [1968] ©1968

https://www.worldcat.org/title/cut-of-womens-clothes-1600-1930/oclc/250274
My redrawing after a pattern in History of Costume by Blanche Payne-note this join line is in the original draft.

History of costume, from the ancient Egyptians to the twentieth century. Drawings by Elizabeth Curtis.
Author: Blanche Payne
Publisher: New York, Harper & Row [1965]

https://www.worldcat.org/title/history-of-costume-from-the-ancient-egyptians-to-the-twentieth-century-drawings-by-elizabeth-curtis/oclc/1086817570&referer=brief_results

The next garment that has been patterned is from Shrewsbury c1710.

Mantua.18th century (1710). Shrewsbury Museums Service (SHYMS: T/1973/6/1). Image sy14193

http://www.darwincountry.org/explore/022360.html?ImageID=22370&Page=42#Gallery

This was patterned by Janet Arnold (Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction C. 1660-1860).

This garment also uses widths of fabric to create a single wedge extension each side and in line with the front panels.

My redrawing after a pattern in Patterns of Fashion 1 by Janet Arnold

Patterns of fashion. . 1. : Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c.1660-1860.
Author: Janet Arnold
Publisher: London : Macmillan, 1977.

https://www.worldcat.org/title/patterns-of-fashion-1-englishwomens-dresses-and-their-construction-c1660-1860/oclc/248594714&referer=brief_results

(ETA: I have divided the pattern so that the shapes can be compared more easily to the other garments- this garment is made in continual lengths from front hem to back hem with the sleeves not cut out but rather shaped by pleating. The pattern can be easily put back as the dividing lines are the only diagonal lines in the draft.)

Of special interest is the length of the front of the mantua. It is quite short (see image of overlaid pattern drafts.). Holme confirms that this is a common feature of mantua.

“A mantua is a kind of loose Coat without stayes [sic] in it, the Body part and Sleeves are of many fashions as i have mentioned in the Gown Body; but the skirt is sometimes no longer than the Knees, others have them down to the Heels. The short skirt is open before, and behind to the middle.”

The academy of armory, or, A storehouse of armory and blazon containing the several variety of created beings, and how born in coats of arms, both foreign and domestick : with the instruments used in all trades and sciences, together with their their terms of art : also the etymologies, definitions, and historical observations on the same, explicated and explained according to our modern language : very usefel [sic] for all gentlemen, scholars, divines, and all such as desire any knowledge in arts and sciences Holme, Randle, 1627-1699. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A44230.0001.001/1:7.3.3?rgn=div3;view=fulltext

This next garment from 1720-1730 and is housed at the Museum of London and patterned by Zillah Halls in Women’s Costumes 1600-1750: London Museum. This is made from chartreuse silk and is again of this single wedge each side construction. This garment is not currently digitised or on display.

Women’s costumes 1600-1750,
Author: Zillah Halls; London Museum.
Publisher: London, H.M.S.O., 1969.

https://www.worldcat.org/title/womens-costumes-1600-1750/oclc/49093
My redrawing after a pattern in Women’s Costume 1600-1750 by Zillah Halls

Women’s costumes 1600-1750,
Author: Zillah Halls; London Museum.
Publisher: London, H.M.S.O., 1969.

https://www.worldcat.org/title/womens-costumes-1600-1750/oclc/49093

This mantua is again shorter than a matching petticoat would be (see image

Another garment at the Museum of London was patterned by Nora Waugh, but not photographed. It is from 1735-1745 and uses the same construction. The train has been pinned up to the waist in the illustration but the pattern does not indicate any change in the construction.

The cut of women’s clothes, 1600-1930
Author: Norah Waugh; Taylor & Francis.
Publisher: Boca Raton, FL : Routledge, an imprint of Taylor and Francis, [2013]. ©1987.

https://www.worldcat.org/title/cut-of-womens-clothes-1600-1930/oclc/1074444804&referer=brief_results
My redrawing after a pattern in Cut of Women’s Clothes, 1600-190 by Norah Waugh

The cut of women’s clothes, 1600-1930
Author: Norah Waugh; Taylor & Francis.
Publisher: Boca Raton, FL : Routledge, an imprint of Taylor and Francis, [2013]. ©1987.


https://www.worldcat.org/title/cut-of-womens-clothes-1600-1930/oclc/1074444804&referer=brief_results

And again this mantua is shorter at the front than the anticipated petticoat hemline (see image of overlaid pattern drafts.)

These are unfortunately the only garments with patterns I have been able to find but there are several more that have been catalogued and the skirt layout captured in photographs.

The Metropolitan Museum has another early mantua example and the photographs do suggest the construction is of a kind- comparing the alignment of the pattern to the outside of the side back join in fabric shows it is in line with the hem not the seam.

Mantua
Date:ca. 1708
Culture:British
Medium:silk, metal
Credit Line:Purchase, Rogers Fund, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn
Bequest, 1991
Accession Number:1991.6.1a, b

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/81809

A mantua in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London has been dated to 1733-1740 based on fabric (earlier date) and cut (later date). This gown has been photographed to show the construction of the skirt. This photo shows the brocade has been reversed from below hip level of the back panels and most of the side panels. This is so that only the face of the brocade is seen when worn and pinned in place.

Mantua
Place of origin:
Spitalfields (probably, woven) Great Britain (made)
Date: 1733-1734 (woven) 1735-1740 (made)
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Materials and Techniques: Brocaded silk, hand-sewn with spun silk and spun threads, lined with linen, brown paper lining for cuffs, brass, canvas and pleated silk
Credit Line: Given by Gladys Windsor Fry
Museum number: T.324&A-1985

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O71872/mantua-unknown/

The Lincolnshire Mantua has been dated to 1735 based on the fabric and over all pattern pieces. This particular mantua has the train and most side panels reversed so that when pinned for display only the face of the brocade is seen.

The Lincoln Mantua

https://www.lincolnshirelife.co.uk/posts/view/the-mystery-of-the-mantua

Mantua from after these examples can be recognised by the folding of the train which follows the folding of the Lincoln mantua and the floral brocades mantua in the V&A as above.

One of the earliest is a blue silk mantua at the Victoria and Albert museum. From the 1720s it retains the extra length in the train despite being pinned up.

Place of origin: Spitalfields (textile, weaving) England (mantua, sewing)
Date: ca. 1720 (weaving) 1720-1730 (sewing)
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Materials and Techniques: Silk, silk thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-woven brocading, hand-sewn.
Museum number: T.88 to C-19788

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O13810/mantua-unknown/

A brown broacaded silk mantua is also of this earlier type and is dated to 1732-1740.

Place of origin: Spitalfields (textile, weaving) Great Britain (ensemble, sewing)
Date: ca. 1732 (weaving) 1735-1740 (sewing) 1870 – 1910 (altered)
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Materials and Techniques: Silk, silk thread; hand-woven brocade, hand sewn
Museum number: T.9&A-1971

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O71535/mantua-unknown/

Other garments described as mantua are harder to confirm from the photos.

The earliest is held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with a date of 1700. It is perhaps the most stunning example of its kind. A deep rich blue silk satin, the petticoat completely covered in metal embroidery, the sleeves and stomacher ditto, only the train seems to be more sparsely covered.

Woman’s Dress (Mantua) with Stomacher and Petticoat
Italy, circa 1700
Costumes; principal attire (entire body)
Silk satin with metallic-thread embroidery
Center back length (Dress): 67 in. (170.18 cm)
Length (Stomacher): 16 1/4 in. (41.28 cm) Center
back length (Petticoat): 41 3/4 in. (106.05 cm)
Costume Council Fund (M.88.39a-c)

https://collections.lacma.org/node/170609

A stunning embroidered mantua is held at the National Museum of Wales, dated to the 1720s though much of the train has been removed during the nineteenth century.

COLLECTION AREA mwl
ITEM NUMBER 23.189.1
ACQUISITION Donation
MEASUREMENTS height (mm):1400 width (mm):2000 (max) depth (mm):1500 (max)
TECHNIQUES metal thread embroidery hand sewn weaving
MATERIAL damask (silk) metal thread silver parchment flax (spun and twisted) silk (spun and twisted)
LOCATION In store
CATEGORIES Court

https://museum.wales/collections/online/object/e2ce99c3-462b-3da3-af0a-953e4f94008d/Dress/?field0=string&value0=Tredegar&field1=with_images&value1=on&field2=string&value2=Dress&index=6

A pale blue damask(?) mantua is held at the Manchester Art Gallery and appears to also be sewn so as to allow the face of the brocade to always be arranged outwards.

mantua dress
Acknowledgement: © Manchester
City Galleries
Created by:
Created: 1740-1742

http://manchesterartgallery.org/collections/search/collection/?id=1989.220

Another blue and silver mantua is held at the Kyoto Costume Institute and again has skirt panels reversed so as to always display the face of the brocade.

Dress (Mantua) 1740-50s – England
Material Blue silk taffeta brocade with botanical pattern, buttons to tack train; matching petticoat.
Dimension Length from the hips 183cm (Train)
Inventory Number(s) AC10788 2002-29AB

https://www.kci.or.jp/en/archives/digital_archives/1700s_1750s/KCI_007

While this garment has been dated to the 1750s i believe it is somewhat earlier. The skirt as displayed does not fit well suggesting it was not worn over wide hoops. The train has been folded and appears to show the fabric has been reversed in a similar manner to the above folded mantua trains. So it could be 1720-1740.

A COURT MANTUA OF CHINESE IMPERIAL YELLOW SILK DAMASK, THE SILK CIRCA 1740, THE MANTUA 1750S
the bodice with long sweeping train of elaborately folded damask buttoning in swags onto two silk covered buttons at the small of the back, the bodice re pleated as a closed robe, the petticoats re-strung, shown here worn with a stomacher which is part of lot 141

https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-court-mantua-of-chinese-imperial-yellow-5018370-details.aspx