Unknown (18th century)
Morgan Family Portrait, ca. 1790
Oil on canvas
John Butler Talcott Fund - 1964.04
The end of the eighteenth century saw a dramatic change in fashion as a result of the War of Independence and the French Revolution. There was a marked restraint in dress due, in part, to the unavailability of imported figured silks. The silhouette diminished in shape from round, full skirts with petticoats and hoops to high-waisted and narrow dresses. The Morgan group wears fashionable costume for a family in the early 1790s. Mrs. Morgan's dress follows the French style with the fullness gathered into the waist. Three bands on the sleeves contain the fabric to emphasize the narrow line. The low neckline of the gown is covered by a linen fichu or kerchief trimmed with lace which is tucked into the bodice edge. The gown was most likely secured by a drawstring at the back.
The Morgans' child wears a figured cotton that was probably imported from the East Indies. Children of both sexes wore white dresses as infants. The baby's gown mimics the style of the mother's in silhouette. Mr. Morgan's costume is made from fabrics in subdued tones. The understated wealth of the sitters is apparent in the choice of materials as revealed in Mr. Morgan's striped silk undervest, the cotton mull stock, so finely woven as to be transparent, and the decorated breech buckle just visible at his knee.