Saturday, February 15, 2014

Woven Textile Designs In Britain (1750 to 1763) - Part II [1]
ArtCloth

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
For your convenience, I have listed below other posts in this genre:
Silk Designs of the 18th Century - Part I
Woven Textile Designs in Britain (1764 to 1789) - Part III
Woven Textile Designs in Britain (1790 to 1825) - Part IV
19th Century Silk Shawls from Spitalfields


Introduction
There are a number of publications featuring the textile design collection held in the Victoria and Albert museum. A comprehensive book on the collection was written by D. King (British Textile Design in the Victoria and Albert Museum). More recently, Natalie Rothstein’s research into eighteenth century has resulted in two further major publications - Barbara Johnson’s Album of Fashion and Fabrics (1987) and Silk Designs of the Eighteenth in the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (1990).

The images and information contained in this post have been procured from a great book – The Victoria & Albert Museum Textile Collection, N. Rothstein, Canopy Books, Paris (1994). Her research into the collection is comprehensive and insightful. A “must have” for your ArtCloth library collection.


Woven Textile Design in Britain From 1750 to 1763
A British committee enquiring into the silk industry in 1765 was told by a mercer that brocades on white grounds made in England were far superior to those made in France. From 1750 to 1770 this material predominated even though other colors and trends existed.

Although there was a shortage of raw silk in 1749, the 1750s were prosperous years. The Huguenots dominated the local Vestry and Weavers Company. The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reform Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. The French Protestants were inspired by the writings of John Calvin in the 1530s, and they were called Huguenots by the 1560s. By the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century, roughly 500,000 Huguenots had fled France during a series of religious persecutions. They relocated to Protestant nations, such as England and because many of them were in the weaving industry they dominated British weaving in the 18th century.

Woven Silk. Spitalfields, ca. 1749-52.
Brocaded in colored silks and silver thread, with a flush pattern in the ground.
Repeat Size: 60.3 x 51.8 cm.

The middle of the 18th was a period of expansion for English silks, ending in a boom in gauze in 1763, swiftly followed by a recession at the end of the Seven Years War. Several newly won markets were lost, the fashion for “gauze” declined, making 1763-66 the most difficult trading period the silk industry had faced.

Woven Silk. Spitalfields, ca. 1750-55.
Brocaded in colored silks, with a flush pattern in the ground.
Repeat Size: 75 x 53.3 cm.

Some of the early master designers and/or weavers such as Leman and Dandrige had died prior to 1750. Perhaps the most prolific silk designer was Anna Maria Garthwaite whose output was typically 10-12 designs per year from 1755-1756, which hardly matched the 80 or so of earlier years. She was born in 1690 and died in 1763. She worked freelance in Spitalfields from about 1728 to 1756. She produced over a thousand designs for the leading weavers and mercers in her day. Despite the stylistic reaction against rococo, her name remained a by-word in the industry.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a “Tobine all over pattern”, 1752.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 30.5 x 27 cm.
The design bears the name of the weaver to whom it was sold, John Sabatier.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, 1752.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 30.5 x 27 cm.
The design bears the name of the weaver to whom it was sold, John Sabatier.

A break in style occurred ca. 1752-53. The flowers on brocaded silks continued to be life-size as in the 1740s but their stems were cut short and additional leaves omitted. A strong yellow was very popular. The types of flower were fewer and, perhaps under the French influence, were becoming more stylized.

Woven Silk. Spitalfields, ca. 1750-52.
Brocaded in colored silks, with a flush pattern in the ground.
Repeat Size: 57.2 x 51.1 cm.

Woven Silk. Spitalfields, ca. 1755.
Brocaded in colored silks, with a flush pattern in the ground.
Repeat Size: 42.9 x 49.2 cm.

The designs for damasks still tended to be conservative. Simon Julins was a specialist in weaving damasks. He was a good customer of Garthwaite from 1742 to 1755. His silks are valuable evidence about the quality of English silks and who bought them. For example, one of his silks was exported to Boston, made into a dress, and finally given to the Museum of Fine Arts by descendants of the original owner.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1755.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 58 x 26 cm.
Inscribed with the name of the weaver, Simon Julins, to whom it was sold. There are silks woven from this design in the Norsk Folkmusset, Oslo (Norway) and in the National Museum, Copenhagen (Denmark).

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1751.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 59.8 x 27 cm.
Inscribed with the name of the weaver, Simon Julins, to whom it was sold. There is a silk woven from this design in buff in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts (USA) and another in crimson in the Kunstindustrimuseet, Oslo (Norway).

The preference of the rich but puritanical American customers for muted colors in their purchase of English silks can be illustrated. For example, the silk woven by Julins below, from a design of 1752, came from Scotland and is scarlet, but the version exported to Boston (USA) is light blue – another favorite American color of those times.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1752.
Woven by Simon Julins, Spitalfields.
Repeat Size: 109.8 x 48.9 cm.
There is another silk woven in light blue in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, (USA). The silk in the Victoria and Albert Museum came from Scotland; the Boston silk has a local provenance.

In this period the English designs were generally less ambitious than the French, but both the use of color and techniques were comparable. The technical feat of combining warp-printing with woven design was considerable. The year 1763 saw the last of the boom in gauze and the next decade from 1763 to 1773, took on a very different character.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1751.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 54.4 x 27 cm.
Inscribe with the name of the weaver, possibly John Phene to whom it was sold.


Reference:
[1] The Victoria & Albert Museum Textile Collection, N. Rothstein, Canopy Books, Paris (1994).

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