Painted Chinese silk gown for the European market

This gown made of imported Chinese hand-painted silk reflects how Europe acquired luxurious Chinese export textiles to be tailored by French dressmakers into fashionable Western silhouettes. This sack-back gown style (robe a la francaise) with open front showing a decorative petticoat, and fabric at the back arranged in large flat pleats from the shoulder to the floor opening into a full skirt, was popular in 18th-century Europe. The featured flowers are quite distinctively British, such as roses, carnations (pinks) and lilac. Chinese export silks and wallpapers were probably hand-painted in the same workshops in Guangzhou, and appreciated extensively by wealthy Europeans in their dress and home furnishings since the 18th century. In technique and design, such silk textiles also suggest a Chinese market response to the European fascination in Indian painted cottons.