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Woman's Quilted Waistcoat

Artist/maker unknown, English

Made in England, Europe

c. 1700

Plain weave cotton quilted with silk back stitch to cotton batting and backing; linen lining and twill tape

23 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches (59.7 x 59.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of the Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1996

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This waistcoat would have been worn informally in lieu of a boned corset with a petticoat and bed gown. Quilting, the stitching together of two or more layers of fabric, made the waistcoat warmer and more supportive. Executed in minute back stitches—as many as forty per inch—its curling vine pattern is reminiscent of arabesques. Originally a word for repeating geometric forms evoking plant and animal shapes in Islamic art, arabesque refers to any pattern of scrolling intertwined lines. They frequently appear in European art, architecture, and decorative arts from the fifteenth through the eighteenth century.