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Pingat Victorian coat



#c409 $5,500   Sold

Pingat beaded faux fur/wool coat, 1890s

This museum quality coat is a great rarity—peerless design in top condition from one of the great couturiers. It should be the centerpiece of a major private or museum collection. Indeed, this magnificent piece can be the entire collection!

The finely textured design features scrolling cut-outs of black faux fur appliquéd onto a midnight blue wool ground. The appliqués are outlined with black corded soutache. The entire design is embellished with faceted black beads that sparkle when they catch the light.

The three-quarter length coat has a shapely cut with a fitted waist and flared skirt. The skirt has side and center-back vents. The coat is lined with black silk faille and closes in front with concealed hooks. The front opening and stand-up collar are trimmed with black curly lamb.

The 1890 Baedeker Guide to Paris recommended visitors go to the three top Parisian couture houses: Worth, Pingat, and Laferrière. James McCall's authoritative 1882 book refers to Pingat and Worth as "two of the three greatest artistic dressmakers in the world." While little is known about Émile Pingat the person, the few surviving examples of his work paint a picture of a creative genius.

His craftsmanship was "near flawless, the epitome of the designing dressmaker's art....flashy fabrics are sublimated to subtle surface trims. His clothes, murmuring elegance rather than shouting affluence, demand close inspection inside and out" (Elizabeth Coleman, The Opulent Era).

By 1880 Pingat had emerged as master of both surface decoration and outerwear. "For dressy jackets...Pingat is the great authority on mantles" (The Queen, 11/13/1880). His virtuosity in both is showcased in this exquisite beaded wool coat as well as in the velvet mantle I recently sold.

While the Houses of Pingat and Worth both had major clients among titled Europeans and moneyed Americans, Worth relied on the former and Pingat on the latter. Pingat's clients came from the American aristocracy of money and achievement, chronicled by Henry James.

In addition to society ladies, his clientele included Emily Roebling (the Brooklyn Bridge); Mrs. Henry Adams, wife of the first American cosmopolitan intellectual, the descendant of two Presidents; Mrs. Marshal Field of Chicago; Mrs. Leland Stanford, who appears with a Pingat mantle in a famous 1881 painting by Bonnat; and the Pierrepont, Hewitt, and Vanderbilt families.

Pingat particularly appreciated his American clientele since price was never an issue. In contrast, Charles Worth had the occasional contretemps about money with European royalty. His most famous patron, the Empress Eugénie of France, threatened to leave Worth if he did not give her a break on prices.

The condition is excellent.

It measures: 40" bust, 30" waist, 50" hip, 15" from sleeve cap to sleeve cap, 26" sleeve length, and 36" from shoulder to hem.

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