Hand-embroidered Kashmir shawl, c.1810
Long rectangular shawls were the key fashion accessory during the Neoclassical period (1790-1820). See the French fashion plate below. The lady is wearing a similar long shawl. A softly draped colorful shawl, like this one with its exotic pattern, complemented the plain white muslin gowns then in vogue.
The body of the shawl is fashioned from fine black wool twill. The sides and ends are bordered with hand woven panels. The ends are finished with different colored sections pieced together and hand embroidered with stylized designs. Each end has a unique combination of colors.
The hand embroidery creates a work of wearable art! Note especially the whimsical hand-embroidered flowers just above the woven end panels.
In the late 18th century, Europeans started importing these expensive shawls. They also appropriated the motifs and adapted them to embroidery and print designs. This superb period shawl was probably hand embroidered in Persia for the Western market.
The Neoclassical or Empire style (after the Emperor Napoleon) exercised a profound influence in the early 19th century on all the arts, not least the decorative arts. The discovery of the ruins at Pompeii in 1748 was the spark that lit the flame of Neoclassicism in the arts.
The condition is excellent.
It measures: 8 3/4" wide by 70" long.