Monday, December 5, 2016

Exhibition Review: “An Agreeable Tyrant”: Fashion after the Revolution

         For their latest exhibition Dar wanted to “consider how Americans fashioned a new identity through costume” after the revolution. Clothing from 1780-1825 was displayed in various rooms throughout the museum.
My first disappointment was the difficulty determining where in the museum the clothes were displayed. One main hall would have been easier than the many dead ends (and private offices?) I stumbled into. My second let down was the pittance of earlier clothing. It’s partially my fault- I heard “revolution” and assumed I’d be seeing clothing from the late 18th century, not mainly the early 1800s.
Regardless- let’s take a look at the clothing shall we?
These were all the 18th century gowns I could find

Reader correction! This fichu is noBurnley & Trowbridge but rather an original mull muslin embroidered shawl used as a kerchief

My two favorite dresses from the era- also those jewels are Dames A La Mode

            My Washington DC trip did have some lovely surprises. Who knew the Air and Space museum featured stomacher jewelry depicting the early days of balloon travel? 
And the National Gallery of Art had some paintings of both Madame du Barry and Madame de Pompadour!
Madame 'One thing about girls from the gutter- they know their diamonds' du Barry

Madame de Pompadour- love the hair

Do you know of 18th century treasures in the D.C. museums? Comment below!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry you were disappointed! The period covered does indeed go a full fifty years after the end of the Revolution. The first two rooms are 1780s, 1790s, with 5 fairly awesome outfits from the 1790s (oh btw that is not Burnley and Trowbridge, it's an original mull muslin embroidered shawl used as a kerchief; but the printed shawl on the manikin next to her, has been reproduced by B&T). Down on the lower level are two more 1790s dresses and two late 18th century cloaks. And unfortunately the layout of the building makes wayfinding a challenge. We do have maps to try to guide you, and the six foot high panels outside each of the rooms with costumes are hard to miss once you get to the part of the building with all the rooms. I only bother to reply, to help anyone contemplating going to know what to expect and to say that there are in fact more 18th c. garments than you illustrated here. But if you are interested in Rev War exclusively, then yes, we begin with the mid 1780s and move right along to the 90s and first quarter of the 1800s. If you come, ask for a map and bear with the limitations imposed by the challenge of installing 50 manikins in 12 period rooms of 1780-1830 which are distributed over 4 levels.--Alden O'Brien, curator, "An Agreeable Tyrant: Fashion After the Revolution."