The seasonal reflection of autumn captured by Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) in this evening dress is inspired, reveling in fall's glories. The coppery bronze silk, with large pattern repeats of oak leaves and acorns, convey autumnal colors and theme.
Due to the monochrome palette, the leaves appear to be tumbling across the dress, just as windswept leaves danced outside the door of the wearer. The realistic treatment of the leaves brings to mind the strictures of John Ruskin and "truth to nature."
The dress was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art via the estate of Mrs. Pierpoint Morgan in 1925, the year that she died. Mrs. Morgan spent long periods of time in France, and although the public record associated with the garment does not mention it, it is highly likely that the dress was created for her for the fall 1877 season. Worth's clientele was the gliterati of the 19th century - by 1860, he was designing for the fashion-forward Empress Eugénie, in 1867, Bostonian Isabella Stewart Gardner became a client, followed by New Yorkers including Mrs. J. Pierpont Morgan, Mrs. William Astor, Jr., and novelist Edith Wharton.
All images courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art
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