Art Fund presents rare court mantua to Historic Royal Palaces

  • 2 March 2007

After a tug of war with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Historic Royal Palaces have acquired an extraordinary 18th-century court mantua, thanks to The Art Fund.

Historic Royal Palaces believed any chance of acquiring the exquisite silk brocade dress had been lost when they were outbid at auction by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. However, a temporary export bar on the mantua by Culture Minister David Lammy presented a second chance to acquire the dress.

The Art Fund, keen to see it secured for public enjoyment in Britain, decided to step in and purchase the mantua outright for £80,275. The charity has presented it to Historic Royal Palaces where it will be displayed at Kensington Palace.

The mantua is made from French silk brocade, an enormously expensive fabric dated to the early 1760s. Woven with a design of stripes and scrolling garlands in silver and trimmed with sparkling silver lace, the dress would have left onlookers gazing in awe and wonder at its unparalleled beauty and splendour.

It is believed to have belonged to Mary, Marchioness of Rockingham, who was married to Charles, 2nd Marquis of Rockingham.

The court mantua will be on permanent display at Kensington Palace from Saturday 3 March 2007.

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Historic Royal Palaces

Click here to find out the results of a recent Art Fund survey which compared the spending power of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art with some of the UK’s top galleries