The newly married couple, Mathia and Morten Leuch, were the centre of attention in Christiania’s social life during the mid-1700s. In connection with the new “TIMESCAPE 1600 -1914” exhibition, the museum is reconstructing one of Mathia’s formal gowns.
The dress is being made in the dressmaking workshop at the museum by Solrun Fanakrå-Staurnes. Photo: Haakon Harriss / Norsk Folkemuseum
Based on the portrait of Mathia Leuch from the 1760s, and her knowledge of dress convention at the time, Solrun Fanakrå-Staurnes is creating a gown of Prussian blue silk taffeta to be displayed in the new exhibition. The cut and design of the gown are well in line with contemporary fashion. The voluminous skirts and narrow, laced waist are typical of the formal gowns of the Rococo period. Prior to 1780 such gowns could only be cut and created by professional tailors. Only when the loose, flowing chemise-dresses became fashionable in the 1780s were women able to make their own.
The timber merchant and businessman Morten Leuch (1732-1768) and Mathia Collett (1737-1801) married in 1758. Both came from families who had made their fortunes in the timber trade and were representatives of the very top of Norwegian society. The newly married couple, both in their twenties, moved into their large, new townhouse in Rådhusgaten 13 in Christiania. It was at the time one of the city’s most representational private residences.
In the “TIMESCAPE 1600 – 1914” exhibition visitors will be able to see their reception room which was connected to the adjoining banqueting hall. The room is among the most splendid surviving Rococo interiors in Norway. Here the table will be set with a precious Chinese tea and coffee service, ready to receive callers. The serving of tea and coffee represented something entirely new at the time and played an important part in contemporary social conventions. Mathia’s gown will be on display in the middle of this room, representing the elegant hostess ready to receive her guests.
You can read more about Mathia and the interior here: (Norwegian only)