The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Corset
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • c. 1640
  • Steel
  • Diameter: 56.7 cm, waist
    Weight: 1.54 kg
  • A230
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Corset, formed of eight thin plates of steel, joined by two hinges at the front and fastening at the back with two steel straps and flat staples. The front is decorated with pierced scrollwork, the back with a succession of diagonal slits. The edges of the plates are pierced with small holes for sewing in the lining, and there are studs for securing shoulder straps. The top edge is cut to a horizontal line back and front. The back bears a double row of rivets on the exterior, possibly for securing lacing eyelets; it has been repaired in several places.

    Corsets of this kind, although unusual, are by no means rare. An example from the J. H. Fitzhenry Collection is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Textiles), and there is one at Firle Park (Viscount Gage). Five others are in Paris: three in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, one, dated 1567, in the Musée de Cluny; another is in the Museo Poldi-Pezzoli at Milan (inv. no. 345). Although capable of giving great support to the figure, they would have been too rigid to wear without discomfort. The deep, narrow shape is that in fashion in the first half of the 17th century.