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Pencil sketch dated 20th May 1902 by the House of Worth for the 1902 coronation dress of the Duchess of Portland, embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.

Content description

Uncoloured pencil sketch by the House of Worth for a dress worn by the Duchess of Portland at the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. The Duchess, whose full name was Winifred Cavendish-Bentinck, served at the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII as a canopy bearer to Queen Alexandra. The coronation was scheduled for the 26th June but in fact took place on the 9th August.

The design was sent to the Royal School of Needlework, then called the Royal School of Art Needlework, to be embroidered. The RSAN was asked to work on many elements of the coronation. According to the Sphere newspaper, Queen Alexandra herself 'was anxious that commissions be given to the RSN'. Madame Tussauds also asked the House of Worth for copies of some of the dresses to be worn by the royal family at the coronation and asked the RSAN to undertake the embroidery along with copies of the King's and Queen's robes.

The dress is a typical turn of the 20th century design, with a floor length skirt, tight bodice with a cinched-in waist, a large bustle, and a high, sweetheart neckline detailed along the edge. The sketch has only a cursory indication of the dress' sleeves. The bodice features a sort of stomacher with a floral, ostrich feather, and snake design. Two snakes adorn the neckline. The skirt features down its front a long bow that leads into two large ostrich feathers and ends with two curled and interlacing snakes. The sketch alludes to a floral design interspersed between the bow, feathers, and snakes on the skirt.

At the top of the sketch are two stamps reading, 'WORTH MAI [French for 'May'] 1902 7 Rue de la Paix, Paris'. Below these stamps is a handwritten note which reads, 'Given to the Royal School of Art Needlework as a document for H.G. the Duchess of Portland'.

Images of the Duchess of Portland wearing the dress survive but it is not known if the dress itself is extant and, if so, in what collection it is held.


width: 16.5cm
height: 27.5cm



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RSN Archive 579/6
© Royal School of Needlework