1804–1805 ca. Evening Dress, French.
Narrow white dress of sheer cotton mull, probably from India, and with sheer short sleeves, extra wide neckline, vertical white embroidery which was very fashionable at the time. The cotton fabric was probably imported from India already embroidered with heavy white cotton thread in transparent mull. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, this sort of dress was considered shocking and immodest after the wider hooped dresses of the eighteenth century.
From the museum curator: “On December 24, 1803, Jerome Bonaparte (1784—1860), brother of Napoleon, wed Elizabeth Patterson (1785—1879) of Baltimore.
The beautiful and fashionable young American was married in a dress of muslin and lace that, according to a contemporary, “would fit easily into a gentleman’s pocket.
Although originally thought to have been Patterson’s wedding dress, the formal gown illustrated here probably dates from 1804, when this type of vertical white embroidery became fashionable.
Napoleon had the marriage annulled in 1805. Jerome was made king of Westphalia in 1807 and he married the princess of Wurttemberg. Elizabeth, banned from France by the emperor, remained in Baltimore with her son, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte (1805—1870).