Queen Isabel II’s corset

Department of the Modern Era


The corset Queen Isabel II was wearing on the day of an assassination attempt

Inventory no.: 54917
Material: Linen, metal, cotton
Technique: Twill, sewn seams, embroidery, lace
Dated:mid-19th century


State of conservation:

The corset is relatively well-conserved, although some changes have affected Its structure and appearance. Some of these changes are due to the use of the piece as part of the Queen’s clothing on the day she was attacked on her way to the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, and others are due to the natural ageing of its component materials and its reaction to environmental conditions over the last hundred years.

After an exhaustive analysis using visible light - incident, transmitted and raking - and ultraviolet light with a microscope, we observed tears in the fabric close to the metal eyelets on the back; various types of dirt; surface wear to the fabric; loss of flexibility in the whalebones; slightly rusty metal elements; deformations of the fabric in the form of folds, some more marked than others; tears at the seams and in the embroidery trimming the whalebones.

Conservation and restoration treatments

This piece has been treated as a document in itself of an important historical event of 19th century Spain, and therefore the damage to the fabric and whalebone caused by the attacker’s blade has been retained, as has the bloodstain around it.

To mitigate the other damage, the piece was cleaned mechanically, and the fabrics were aligned and consolidated using chemically inert, reversible procedures which are compatible with the original piece; in other words, by sewing.

Finally, after intervening in the piece and to enable it to be shown to the public, a conservation display support was designed to fit it, avoiding tensions in the structure and materials of the corset. It was made with chemically inert, stable polyethylene and cotton.