Sunday, February 11, 2018


Art Correspondent  Ponsonby  Willis   unearths  a  rare  catalogue in  Queensland .
A   dress   once worn by    Marie Antoinette, last Queen of France , executed during the French Revolution , was  brought to  Australia  in 1991 . It was part of the  Helen Larson Private Collection, billed as  L'Epoque d'Elegance ,  displayed  in  a David  Jones  store , part of  the Melbourne  International  Festival  of  Arts. 

 Described  as  her only  court  dress   known  to  exist , the train was in    aubergine gros-de-tours, with gold dots and  scattered  tiny flower sprigs , a wide border of cream  silk  embroidered  with  pink and cream carnations. In addition, there were  applied  bands of   lattice  lace .

Other items in the fabulous  collection included an elaborate black satin gown  and train  with gold embroidery worn by  Marie  Da Gloria  at  her coronation  as Queen of Portugal in 1834;  an off white satin gown with black velvet  ribbon trim, worn at the inaugural ball  for  the  American president Ulysses S. Grant, c1869; a man's Louis the l6th  court suit of  uncut velvet  , embroidered  with coloured silk  flowers , the waistcoat of ribbed  ivory silk  trimmed with   gold sequins  and  embroidered with gold silk and coloured  thread; a gown made from English  Spitalfields  silk  worn at a reception party by  Martha Washington  at Mount Vernon in 1771; a cotton gown made for the wife of Lord Harris, Governor of Bombay, c1852-3; a purple  satin evening gown with cut velvet cone pattern , designed by Charles Worth , of Paris, worn by American heiress Mrs  Bradley Martin of  New York,  her daughter, Cornelia, married  the fourth Earl of Craven; a black lace  and net  evening gown over light  blue satin , trimmed with beads and bugles, worn by Consuelo Vanderbilt , who became the Duchess of Marlborough .    

 The  earliest item on display was  a  burgundy velvet boy's jacket , c1595-1610. An Italian  velvet cloak  with a  metallic pattern and  moleskin collar , dating from 1920, had  been made by Fortuny.

In a showcase  was a  French  gown , elaborately trimmed with  pearls  and black beads  , with black and  cream striped sleeves and train,  worn by Mrs  Julia Butterfield  when presented to the Empress of   Russia .