Estelle Burlingame Treat (1846-1932), originally hailed from Chicago where she purchased this dress from the department store Marshall Field. The fuller skirts of the 1870s had by decade’s end evolved to a columnar form with added draped embellishments. In 1883-84 the bustle, which had fallen from favor, made a return. Unlike the bustle of the 1870s which gave a curvaceous support of the skirt lower down, the revived bustle stuck out from the back of the waist perpendicular to the body. A woman in such a bustle is featured in the foreground of Seurat’s famous painting “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte.” Though this gown lacks the cut for such a bustle in the bodice, the back drapery, which puffs out wing-like behind, gives the same appearance in silhouette.
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