Clearly the gentleman who had this waistcoat made was at the height of fashion. What a conversation piece.
The balloon on the waistcoat is not a Montgolfier, but the first hydrogen balloon, created by professor Jacques Charles and les frères Robert, which took off in Paris, August 1783.
Benjamin Franklin, who was Ambassador to France in 1776–1785, was an eyewitness and wrote about the event. This balloon was called ‘Le Globe’, and is round, closed, and is easily recognizable because the two balloonists waved their flags *
Of fine ribbed ivory silk taffeta embroidered with a high round neck with buttons to both sides of the front opening, embroidered buttonholes to the right side, as you look at the waistcoat, the buttons covered in same ivory silk and embroidered with a silver thread centres, the fronts completely embroidered with small hot air baloons between small flower heads, in pink, ivory, red, blue and green silk thread and silver thread, mainly in tambour stitch, the front gently cutaway, flap pockets, the sides with deep gores, the back of thick cotton.
Shoulder to hem 32 1/2 in; 83 cm
Underarm 38 in; 97 cm
Basically very good. There are a few small and slight marks on both fronts. The worst mark is pale tea colour 1 cm to the centre of the right hand side. Ask for photos.
* My thanks to Gieneke Arnolli who is curator of fashion and textiles at the Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. The museum has a charming woman's jacket printed with similar balloons.
An Iconographical Study of 18th Century Men's Waistcoats from the Collection of the Palais Galliera, Musee de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. Petrie, Sarah. in TEXT. The Textile Society's journal Vol 43. 2015-6 p 27-32.
The Musee des Tissus in Lyon has a painted pattern designed to adorn the skirts of a waistcoat representing a Mongolfier air balloon from 1784.
All images and text © meg-andrews.com 2020