Lot 28 (Passion for Fashion, 17th June 2019)

A fine and important 'grand habit de cour' bodice, French, 1765-75, of pale pink satin overlaid with scalloped bands of silver lace terminating at the front waist in an arrow-head shaped point, tabbed satin sides with cord piped edging, wide, curving neckline with short sleeves set far back over the rear shoulders to produce the desired rigid forward thrusting décoletté and bare shoulders, large metal hooks to the rear waist to take the court train, cotton braids to the waist sides for attaching to the petticoat, bust approx 76cm, 30in, waist 53.5cm, 21in



A grand habit de cour, or robe de cour (also called a robe de corpse by the British), was a stiff-bodied gown which was used as the formal court wear across much of Europe, and most particularly in France, throughout the 18th century. It consisted of a stiff, boned bodice, laced up the back, a skirt, (of varying shape) and a separate train worn either at the waist or falling from the shoulders and detachable lace sleeves. Additional stays were not worn (as with open robes) as the integral rigid boning within the bodice was more than sufficient to hold and constrict the figure to the desired silhouette.



Very few of these bodices have survived. Although made of rich fabrics, they were often also further adorned with real jewels including diamonds, so were frequently taken apart after their use was finished. The Swedish Royal collection includes three robe du cour bodices including a cloth of silver example - the wedding 'robe de cour' of Princess Sophia Magdalena of Denmark when she married Prince Gustav III of Sweden at the Palace Church, November 4th 1766, (Livrustkammeren Museum, Stockholm). Silver robes de cour were the standard wedding dresses for royal brides across Europe in the 18th century, including Empress Catherine the Great and Queen Marie Antoinette. An English cloth of gold robe de cour bodice of 1761 (Helen Larson collection) is included in the collection of FIDM. The Palais Galliera includes a pale blue silk 'corsette', of similar shape but un-boned of the 1780s which is believed to have belonged to Marie Antoinette in 1780-87. We are not aware of any other extant robe de cour bodices of this period.



Lot 28 also bears a striking similarity to that worn in a portrait of Maria Caroline of Naples (Marie Antoinette's elder sister) by Raphael Mengs, of 1768, the year of her marriage to King Ferdinand IV.



In France, the rigid bodice style was popularised during the reign of the Sun King - Louis XIV (1638-1715), who liked the women of his court to display as much décolleté and shoulders as was humanly possible. Thus, this highly restrictive but elegant garment became mandatory for all court occasions and continued to be worn in various forms until the late 18th century.



Colour was important. When debutantes were first formally presented to the monarch for the first time at court they wore a black, white or silver robe de cour, but afterwards were allowed to wear an example in a colour of their choice such as this lovely pink bodice.



The detachable train was also an indicator of the wearer's status: the longer the train, the higher the rank of its wearer. Although the shape of the bodice remained relatively unchanged throughout the 18th century (until the 1770s-80s when the neckline became more square), the matching skirts changed with the prevailing fashions of the day, ranging from slightly angular conical shape to enormous, wide rectangular skirts.



During the 1770s, Louis XVI, (at the instigation of Marie Antoinette who called the robe de cour 'obsolete and unbearable') allowed the rules to be slightly relaxed. The robe à la franais

Sold for £42,000

Buyer's premium: 25% (exclusive of VAT)


 

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(a) The contractual relationship of Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd &. and Sellers with prospective Buyers is governed by:-
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(b) Title in a lot will not pass to the Buyer until KT has received the Purchase Price in cleared funds. KT will generally not release a lot to a Buyer before payment. Earlier release shall not affect passing of title or the Buyer’s obligation to pay the Purchase Price, as above.
(c) The refusal of any licence or permit required by law, as outlined in Condition 6, shall not affect the Buyer’s obligation to pay for the lot, as per Condition 8(a).
(d) The Buyer must arrange collection of lots within 10 working days of the auction. Purchased lots are at the Buyer’s risk from the earliest of (i) collection or (ii) 10 working days after the auction. Until risk passes, KT will compensate the Buyer for any loss or damage to the lot up to a maximum of the Purchase Price actually paid by the Buyer. KT’s assumption of risk is subject to the exclusions detailed in Condition 5(d) of the Conditions of Business for Sellers.
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9. Remedies for non-payment
Without prejudice to any rights that the Seller may have, if the Buyer without prior agreement fails to make payment for the lot within 5 working days of the auction,KT may in its sole discretion exercise 1 or more of the following remedies:-

(a) store the lot at its premises or elsewhere at the Buyer’s sole risk and expense;
(b) cancel the sale of the lot;
(c) set off any amounts owed to the Buyer by KT against any amounts owed to KT by the Buyer for the lot;
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be liable for any shortfall between the original Purchase Price and the amount achieved on re-sale, including all costs incurred in such re-sale;(g) exercise a lien over any Buyer’s Property in KT’s possession, applying the sale proceeds to any amounts owed by the Buyer to KT. KT shall give the Buyer 14 days written notice before exercising such lien;
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(a) If the Buyer pays the Purchase Price but does not collect the lot within 14 working days of the auction, the lot will be stored at the Buyer’s expense and risk at KT’s premises or in independent storage.
(b) If a lot is paid for but uncollected within 6 months of the auction, following 60 days written notice to the Buyer, KT will re-sell the lot by auction or privately, with estimates and reserves at KT’s discretion. The sale proceeds, less all KT’s costs, will be forfeited unless collected by the Buyer within 2 years of the original auction.

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Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd Authenticity Guarantee
If Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd sells an item of Property which is later shown to be a “Counterfeit”, subject to the terms below Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd will rescind the sale and refund the Buyer the total amount paid by the Buyer to Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd for that Property, up to a maximum of the Purchase Price.

The Guarantee lasts for one (1) year after the date of the relevant auction, is for the benefit of the Buyer only and is non-transferable.

“Counterfeit” means an item of Property that in Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd ‘s reasonable opinion is an imitation created with the intent to deceive over the authorship, origin, date, age, period, culture or source, where the correct description of such matters is not included in the catalogue description for the Property.
Property shall not be considered Counterfeit solely because of any damage and/or restoration and/or modification work .

Please note that this Guarantee does not apply if either:-
(i) the catalogue description was in accordance with the generally acceptedopinions of scholars and experts at the date of the sale, or the catalogue description indicated that there was a conflict of such opinions; or
(ii) the only method of establishing at the date of the sale that the item was a Counterfeit would have been by means of processes not then generally available or accepted, unreasonably expensive or impractical; or likely to have caused damage to or loss in value to the Property (in Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd’s reasonable opinion); or
(iii) there has been no material loss in value of the Property from its value had it  accorded with its catalogue description.

To claim under this Guarantee, the Buyer must:-
(i) notify Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd in writing within one (1) month of receiving any information that causes the Buyer to
question the authenticity or attribution of the Property, specifying the lot number,
date of the auction at which it was
purchased and the reasons why it is believed to be Counterfeit; and
(ii) return the Property to Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd in the same condition as at the date of sale and be able to transfer good title in the Property, free from any third party claims arising after the date of the sale.

Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd has discretion to waive any of the above requirements. Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd may require the Buyer to obtain at the Buyer’s cost the reports of two independent and recognised experts in the relevant field. Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd shall not be bound by any reports produced by the Buyer, and reserves the right to seek additional expert advice at its own expense. In the event Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd decides to rescind the sale under this Guarantee, it may refund to the Buyer the reasonable costs of up to two mutually approved independent expert reports, provided always that the costs of such reports have been approved in advance and in writing by Kerry Taylor Auctions Ltd.

 

Last updated: 23rd May 2014

 
 

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