Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Striking Pink Silk Stomacher for Miss Elizabeth Price, c. 1765-1775

This eye-catching, hot pink, white and black/brown silk stomacher is part of the Price Family textile collection at The Bostonian Society/Old State House (www.bostonhistory.org). It was most likely worn by Miss Elizabeth Price (oldest daughter of Elizabeth Bull Price (1718-1780). The style indicates a date range of c. 1765-1775 and the fetching piece was probably purchased and worn in Britain. Stomachers at this time were beginning to lose their popularity (and utility). Generally, they were worn until about 1775, when edge to edge gown closure became the norm. This stomacher underscores that the aesthetic was shifting away from the elaborate heavily embroidered botanical patterns, adorned with silk and metallic threads, of the Rococo period. Thin, shiny, lighter silks of the early Neoclassical period began to predominate. Even the trim is delicate. Miss Bull’s stomacher was probably associated with matching trim from the dress fabric, or a similar, compatible textile.  
Detail reveals patterns of wear and age; frayed and shredded silk
According to costume historian, Professor Mary Doering, of George Mason University/Smithsonian Associates: During the 1760s, many fashionable dresses were made in a monochromatic style, where the emphasis was on surface ornamentation rather than complementary textile or embroidery patterns.  The novelty striped silks, such as this one, became popular in the 1770s. A look at the reverse reveals the frequent hasty stitching of the trim.

No doubt Miss Price commanded considerable attention in an ensemble of a similar style and pattern to the stomacher!

Thank you to Patricia Gilrein, Collections Manager, The Bostonian Society for her assistance with the stomacher.

For additional information, see:

From Baby Caps to Mourning Rings

Visiting with Elizabeth Bull’s Wedding Dress, 1731-1735+

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