'Rinaldo & Armida' waistcoat

Man's waistcoat with 'Rinaldo and Armida' ornamentation

  • Gift of the Société de l’Histoire du Costume
  • Circa 1790-1795
  • Cream silk taffeta, flat satin stitch and stem stitch embroidery, polychrome silk thread
  • GAL 1920.1.171
  • Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

The 18th century was already alert to the basics of ready-to-wear. Waistcoats were marketed as pre-decorated fabric segments which could be given to a tailor and assembled. The front panels would be lined and brought together at the back, as a rule with some different, simpler fabric. Ties at the back meant the garment could be adjusted to the desired fit. This waistcoat is embellished with a scene from Jerusalem Delivered, by the Italian writer Torquato Tasso (1544-1595). The valiant crusader knight Rinaldo is shown drowsing in a charming outdoor setting, while the armed sorceress Armida cannot bring herself to kill the hero she admires and whom she finally falls in love with. The adventures of Armida and Rinaldo were set to music by Lully (1632–1687) in 1686, to a libretto by Philippe Quinault. The same libretto would be adapted in 1777 by Gluck (1714–1787) for Armida, one of his masterpieces. The interpretation offered by this waistcoat is doubtless a tribute to the ongoing success of a text and to two famous 18th-century operas. 

Notice's author : Pascale Gorguet-Ballesteros