Block-Printed “Italian Gown”
Style: The signature of this new style is a back bodice cut in four pieces dipping to a deep center point. The “quartered bodice” was a departure from the uncut, pleated back bodices which had dominated women’s dressmaking through most of the eighteenth century. This type of cut and fitted back became widespread in the 1780s.
The dress is still traditionally made as an open robe with petticoat rather than as the newer round gown; three-quarter length sleeves are also less fashion-forward than long sleeves. Many women continued to combine old and new features in their dresses during this transitional period.
Fabric: The cotton print’s floral sprays in pink and blues on a white ground reflect the vogue for naturalistic, delicate designs. Without a domestic textile industry, Americans still imported such printed fabrics from England, India, and, to a lesser extent, France.
Block-Printed Italian Gown, 2005.1.1, Friends of the Museum Purchase.
Back view of the “quartered bodice.”