Lilenthal Family Antique Chinese Robe
August 14, 2021

From our October 2021 newsletter:

Sukey and sister Andrea Lilienthal have been periodically making some generous donations to Lacis over the past few months. Since they were young, their family has had quite a significant collection of Asian textile art on display in their home, such as Buddhist kesa cloths (meditation robes) hanging as tapestries on the wall.
      We were unsurprised, then, to discover that the Lilienthal family is highly artistic; it is probably due in part to the influence of growing up surrounded by such storied, inspiring pieces. For eight years, Sukey, for example, was the Development Director at the Crowden Center, a music-centered private school for children, while Andrea has an incredibly striking paper art and sculpture practice, with her various works shown in galleries in New York City.
       One of their contributions to the Lacis Museum collection included the item shown above. It's a luxurious antique Chinese winter robe of sea-green padded satin. It elicited audible gasps from us as we inspected it, so gorgeously constructed inside and out. Just take a peek into the sleeve—it's embroidered on the inside, presumably for the exclusive delectation of the wearer. (And, perhaps, whoever may have dressed—and undressed—them?)
      What a lovely treat it must have been, having a secret to wear, or to privately share, according to the dictates of one's heart and discretion... Clearly it belonged to a person accustomed to a certain level of comfort, opulence, and mystery in their attire.

This fabulous object piquing your interest? We thought it might. Christie's has a little collector's guide for these kinds of Chinese robes—go on, give it a little read. It's fascinating.

Museum ID: ADM.37133
Photographs: Julie Ann Brown

Ivory silk Chinese robe
featuring pair of dragons motif

Also donated by the Lilienthal family


Museum ID: 37181
Photographs: Jules Kliot