Chintz in the Rijksmuseum

In March, I visited the small chintz (Chintz – Global Textile) exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I went looking for one of my pictures today, and suddenly realized I completely forgot to blog about the visit. So here’s me making up for that! (If you’re curious about chintz itself, I have some info on that here as well)

The exhibition was small, just a single room, but it had some stunning pieces. The Rijksmuseum is not focused on costume, but it does collect things which have to do with Dutch history and identity. Chintz is one of those interesting things which was originally exotic, made abroad, and yet became a part of Dutch heritage. Through trade initially, and later on through it’s continued existance in traditional costume. The pieces in the Rijksmuseum were mostly 18th century, some wall hangings and fragments, other complete pieces of clothing.

 

To begin, they had a number of so called ‘japonse rokken’ (loosly translates to japanese robes), or banyans on display. Modelled after imported Japanese kimonos, they were worn by men and show the orignial use of chintz in more informal wear.

 

There’s quite a variety, I especially loved the red one as it reminded me of the early 18th century ‘bizarre’ silks.

 

They feature some nice details, such as the strips in the collar of this yellow-ground one.

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The one woman’s gown on display was this beautiful francaise. They have it photographed over wider hoops on the website, and given how it drags on the sides I suspect it would’ve been worn that way, not how it’s displayed here.

 

Despite the inherent formality francaises normally have, this one is relatively simple. It does not have any trim, although it does feature some very nice cuffs.

 

They did have some other women’s garments as well. Firstly, this lovely petticoat featuring some interesting scenes. Chintz was definitely not just about flowers!

 

Finally, there were two garments from the town of Hindeloopen, which had it’s own specific local (traditional) dress. First, this ‘wentke’, which is a long overcoat. The blue-white combination is typically worn for light mourning. Special about this one, though, was the silver on the chintz. (Do click on the right picture to see it better). It fairly sparkled in the light, it was so beautiful!

 

The other item was a ‘kassakeintje’, which is basically a shorter (cassaquin) version of the wentke. This is probably one of the most famous chintz pieces out there, most people will have seen the official photograph of the back:

Jak van sits, dat op een crèmekleurig fond grote bloemen en ruitpatronen toont, met als hoofdkleuren paars, roze, blauw en blauwgroen. Afwerking met roze-wit langettenband., anoniem, 1810 - 1820. Hindeloopen

The lighting was not as ideal in the exhibition of course, but this does finally give an opportunity to see the front! It’s also interesting how it, at first glance, seems perfectly symmetrical. However, once you look a little closer, you can see small (and some bigger) deviations from the mirrored pattern.  Especially in the purple waving lines at the bottom side/back of the bodice

 

I also took some pictures of the fabric. It’s truly stunning, I keep being awed by how pretty the colors always are in original pieces.

 

The back has gores to make it flare out, and all the seams have a tiny line of red contrast stitches about 1,5cm to the side. This is typical for the wentkes and kassekeintjes from Hindeloopen, I’ve never seen any without.

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Aside from the clothing, there were also some fabric pieces. These were some fragments. The first was a small piece, but special due to the gold on it.

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This was a larger piece off a role, a bit more ‘modern’ in style.

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Some piecing, which is always difficult to see in chintz.

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Finally, there was one large wall-hanging on a red ground. This fabric was so stunning, it was one of my favourites. You can see the age, and somehow it’s still so vibrant.

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The exhibition is on display until July 21st 2019, so there’s still a little time left to go see it! (Ask where to go at the info desk, it’s a huge museum, and a very small exhibition)

Catwalk – Fashion in the Rijksmuseum

When the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam announced that they were organizing a fashion exhibition this year it immediately made me very happy and curious. I’d seen some of their pieces, and some photo’s of others, but a lot of it hadn’t been photographed or exhibited. So finally a chance to see some of their collection! The exhibition is called ‘Catwalk’ and ranges fashion from the 17th century to the 1960’s. The whole thing was designed by Erwin Olaf, a Dutch photographer. He also made some of the publicity shots and a short movie clip showing the changes in silhouette over the years (my only wish was that it’d been in chronological order…). Both can be seen here: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/catwalk .

Last Easter weekend I finally had a chance to visit. We went very early, because the Rijksmuseum can be extremely busy especially on holidays. Turned out to be a good choice, when we arrived at 9:30 it wasn’t quiet, but still doable. When we left around 13:30 the crowds had gathered. We went through the entire exhibition twice, and on the second round I also took the chance to make some photo’s (at the bottom of this post). The lighting wasn’t perfect, but I think I still managed to get some okay photo’s of details.

All in all, I really liked the exhibition. It was very well set up, with a some of the pieces even moving along a catwalk. Where possible, the dresses were displayed without glass and viewable from every side, which is always a big plus for me. The rooms were organized by theme. The first was children’s clothing, with one 1850’s dress surrounded by moving children’s clothing. In addition, there were sounds of children’s play in the background, to really bring it to life. The second room was for the old pieces, 16th century to halfway 17th century. Including one of the only existing 17th century underpants. The third room was the catwalk, with 20th century fashion 1900 to 1950’s moving around. They’d put up chairs around the catwalk and a booklet so you could read about the pieces as they moved by. The third room showed the changes in silhouette, from the constraints of the 18th and 19th centuries to the 1960’s as era of freedom. The fourth room was about details, with spots lighting out specific details in dresses. The final room consisted of the show-pieces, several gorgeous dresses between 1750 and 1820 worn for special occasions and weddings. The top-piece was a 18th century wedding dress which is 2 meters wide. Especially the embroidery was absolutely gorgeous. I’d seen it in all the promo shots and thought it actually looked a bit plain because there’s barely any trimming on the dress. But seeing the thing in real-life completely changed my mind. The embroidery is so stunning, and the colors so well preserved that it’s definitely more impressive up close.

Some of my favorite pieces are below, with the official high-quality shots (you can find them in full (big!) size on the website of the Rijksmuseum) and my additional photo’s. (Reduced size to save space, but if you’re interested in the full-size image just send me a message!)

One of the oldest pieces, dress with Watteau pleats of sild, embroidered with flower and leaf motives, ca 1740-1745 (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-1961-90-A)

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The show-stopper, a wedding dress with train, 2 meters wide, 1750-1760. The dress was worn by Helena Slicher in 1759. Interesting is that it combines various court-fashions. The bodice with ‘tail’ follows the English court fashion (manteau), while the separate train is mostly seen on the European mainland. (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-1978-247) The dress is deceptively plain, the only trim is on the sleeves, but the embroidery is absolutely gorgeous. I tried to get images of the back, it was standing relatively close to a wall (no walking behind), but the mirror behind made up for a lot. Underneath the sleeve flounces you can see the attachment of the train.

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Robe a la francaise, ca 1765-1775. The width and fabric indicate that this was worn for a formal occasion. The leafs in the silk are woven with gold and silver thread. The petticoat is a tablier, it only fills the front opening of the skirt.

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Redingote, ca 1786-1789, made of silk. I love the color of this garment, and interested in the little flaps which make the over-skirt stand open at the bottom. Never seen that anywhere else. (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-1978-250)

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Dress of blonde-bobbin lace, 1815-1820. Lace wasn’t very popular after the French revolution, but Napoleaon obligated wearing lace at court in 1804 increasing its popularity. This type of blonde lace is named after the light color, and due to the fragility of the fabric blonde gowns are rare. (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-NM-14105 )

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Riding costume, ca 1826. (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-VII-N ). I love the color of this costume, and it was absolutely tiny! (54 cm waist…)

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Dress with silver embroidery, worn at 12,5 year marriage party by  Maria Elisabeth Verwer-Offermans in 1915 (link: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.23624)

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