Manchester Art Gallery

corset & stays & stomacher

Object description

Red satin over linen twill, edged with pale blue silk ribbon. Stays: shaped back section, sides continuing round to front with nineteen pairs of holes stitched in blue silk, extending to blunt-pointed waist, six tabs over hips and back, 2 plain satin gores between tabs at each hip; shoulder straps from back with hole at each end to tie to holed tabs at front; narrowly spaced stitching in blue silk, vertical down back, oblique at sides; straps and front laced with more modern lacing; seams at back covered and centre front panel outlined with metal thread braid; edges bound pale blue silk ribbon, some (probably contemporary) repairs in pale blue grosgrain ribbon. Stomacher: curved top and blunt point, central bone and one bone each side, narrow vertical stitching in blue silk, braid down centre front, and across top. Probably worn by Dame Elizabeth Filmer and they are inscribed in ink near the shoulder with an 'E'. The Filmer collection comprises of a group of textiles and garments that once belonged to Sir Edward Filmer Knight and his wife, Dame Elizabeth (daughter of Richard Argall Esq.). They lived in East Sutton Park in Kent and were married for 44 years. During their married life they had 9 sons and 9 daughters, Edward dying on 2nd November 1629 and Elizabeth on 9th August 1638.

Display label

Clothes from the seventeenth century are now extremely rare survivals, especially whole garments like man's doublets and shirts, or women's bodices or stays. The Gallery has a comprehensive selection of such pieces, as well as accessories like gloves, fans, purses and shoes, many of which belonged to a single family, the Filmers of Kent. Clothing of this date is often made much more interesting by the sophisticated and imaginative embroidery which decorates it, as in all the examples shown. The main image shows a woman's informal, but highly fashionable, jacket entirely covered in coloured silk embroidery showing symmetrical scrolling foliage holding polychrome bunches of grapes. Even the linen shirt in the last image, dating from the 1630s and the earliest man's shirt in the collections, has fine whitework embroidery at the neck as well as a scalloped needle lace falling collar.