123.2 cm (48 1/2 inches) (center back length)
Gift of William Ely
This restrained silk dress hovers between Empire and Romantic styles. The high waist, defined just under the wearer’s bust, is a signature of Empire-era dress, popular between 1790 and 1815. The dress’s heavier-weight silk twill, its open bateau neckline, and its corded silk-satin trim at the cuffs and hem all move toward the Renaissance Revival look of Romantic-era dress popular in the 1830s.
At the hem, motifs of abstracted cyprus trees and palmette designs evoke the patterning found in imported textiles—in particular the Kashmiri wool shawls Napoleon’s soldiers accessed through new trade streams and brought back to France.