18th Century Chintz Dresses

Dress (robe à l'anglaise) and skirts in chintz, ca. 1770-1790, shawl (fichu) in embroidered batiste, 1770-1800

Dress (robe à l’anglaise) and skirts in chintz, ca. 1770-1790, shawl (fichu) in embroidered batiste, 1770-1800

Chintz (plural of chint) is a glazed plain-woven textile made from unbleached and unprocessed cotton that contains a multi-color floral print pattern. Originally used for bed covers and draperies, the (east) Indian fabric was a major European import until a ban was enacted in a number of European counties in the early 18th century to protect local milling interests. With the import ban in place, chintz became a popular clothing fabric among French and British elite who were above the law. In 1742, a French missionary uncovered the Indian chintz-making process so that British and French mills could produce the fabric. The ban was subsequently lifted in 1759, making chintz a widely available product.

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