Cloth of Gold
French Lyons; Lyon, Cloth of Gold, ca. 1750-1769, Silk and metallic thread ribbed weave with discontinuous patterning wefts; 129.5 cm (51 inches) (length), Gift of Marshall H. Gould 46.256
French manufacture of cloth of gold probably began in the mid-seventeenth century. From this period, the textile appears regularly in inventories of decorative materials adorning French palaces and royal institutions. Fabrics of gold and silver were also used in clothing for the elite. RISD’s length is pieced together from smaller fragments of a dress. Some of them retain the folds that originally formed the double box pleats of the upper back of a robe à la française, the gown most often worn at French court balls. Lacy serpentine ribbon motifs meander the length of the textile with stiff branches sprouting both naturalistic carnations and apple blossoms from the same stem, a design typical of the 1750s and 1760s.