Friday, August 23, 2013

Mantua Maker Trade Sign

Since so much of my time has been focused on all things gown, it seems appropriate to do some more research on 18th century gown makers, also known as mantua makers.  So what is a mantua?  In the late 17th and early 18th century it was a gown style, with pleats that were running over the shoulder and stitched down on the back.  Unlike previous gowns of the 17th century, this gown was actually more democratic, without the elaborate boning and labor requirements of earlier gowns.  You can find late 17th century criers depicted wearing basic mantuas.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The mantua evolved into the English gown, and the word and the style became fossilized and was still used in elaborate court dress much later in the 18th century.

Victoria and Albert Museum

This mid century court mantua is to die for (and probably killed a few doors in its time).  The burning question in my mind always is, "How the hell did they get where they were going to show off the damn dress".  Sitting down in a carriage is not an option.  Was there a carriage wide enough to take the whole thing?  I know the hoops required for this gown are often steel, to support the weight and they must be hinged in some manner.  But I digress.

The word "mantua" stuck to a dressmaker right thru most of the 19th century as well.   And of course just to make ourselves crazy, "mantua" is also a descriptive term for a certain type of silk.

Update: This sign turns out to be the sign of  the inn.  So the quest continues for any sort of trade sign for a mantua maker or dressmaker.

British Museum

John Collet, c 1770.

1 comment:

  1. I believe this sign has nothing to do with mantua or dressmaking but was a sign for 'The Silent Woman' ordinary (tavern). (Hence no head). I have seen it years ago, and that was the information given at that time.