09 May 2017

An échelle stomacher

1770s(?) stomacher at the Nordic Museum
This stomacher, dated to the 1770s (though it may be earlier—see discussion below), is in the collection of the Nordic Museum. I found it through the database of Swedish and Norwegian museum artefacts, DigitaltMuseum. The item text says (in translation):
a) Stomacher, triangular with the lower point rounded, out of two layers of white linen with 6 silk rep ribbons sewn on close together, striped in white, red, and pink, each with a bow in the center.
b) and c) Separate bows.
So, this échelle stomacher comes with two matching bows for attaching to the sleeves, making it a complete set as seen in many period portraits.

There are no photos of the back of the stomacher or the separate bows. The top edge of the linen base seems to curve down slightly, so it won't show above the top ribbon. You can see the linen peek out between the bows, though.

The only measurement given is for the ribbon, which is 52 mm (2") wide. But that makes it easy to calculate the stomacher's over-all measurements from the photo - the completed linen base is about 26 cm (10") wide and 31 cm (12") tall.

Échelle stomachers in portraits

Madame de Pompadour wears an échelle stomacher and matching bows in several paintings. In the second half of the 1750s her ribbons seem to be a solid color, but she's wearing a striped ribbon set similar to the one above in the 1763-1764 painting Madame de Pompadour at her tambour frame (and in this related portrait).

Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht (1718-1763),
painted by Ulrika Pasch (source unknown)
Kristina Sofia Drufva, née Silfversköld (1726-1779),
painted by Ulrika Pasch (source: DigitaltMuseum)

These portraits show two Swedish noblewomen. The painting to the left was featured in the Dreamstress' Rate the Dress in 2011, and I lucked upon the other painting today. Maybe the early 1760s is a reasonable dating for both, considering the death date of the woman to the left, and the fact that they have taller hairstyles than 1750s women? Along with the Pompadour portraits, that would place the striped échelle stomacher in the [early] 1760s rather than the 1770s.

Note how the women above have chosen virtually identical colors and accessories, in everything except the striped ribbons—a bold black and white, or a quiet beige and white. A different set of ribbons can really alter the over-all impression of an outfit!

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