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Design

  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, designed)

  • Date:

    1784-1792 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink on paper

  • Museum number:

    E.261-1973

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case T, shelf 10, box A

This is a design for embroidery on muslin or gauze. It is probably for the border of a petticoat to a woman's open gown or for the border of the gown itself. Women wore gowns that were open in front to reveal the petticoat. This design is for the embroidery along the border above the bottom hem of a petticoat and also for such a border on the gown itself. The design repeated so that this pattern continued around the border. The design must have been used repeatedly judging by the amount of pinholes which caused the need to strengthen it by sewing on a support. The design seems to have been used after backing because there are pinholes in the turned-over edges and through the backing. The backing was not therefore a paper conservation measure to strengthen the design in, for example, a museum collection because it would not have been used afterwards in such a context. A similar network of lines to this design can be seen in an Indian embroidered muslin dress, for the European market, in the Museum of London MOL.65.80/1. The gird of pinholes was used to sew the design with tacking stitches to the underside of muslin or gauze that is stretched on an embroidery frame or a tambour frame. The black ink of the design would have shown through the transparent textile and the design could have been embroidered, without tracing it on to the textile with watercolour. Saint-Aubin described this process. Germain de Saint-Aubin, Charles. L'Art du Brodeur, 1770. The amount of use suggests that this design was in demand by clients.

Physical description

The design has a central panel of three-petalled flowers arranged in a scattered pattern, above which is a narrow, scalloped border. Beneath is a wide border with scalloped edges on either side. There is an interlocking network of stems with leaves growing off them within these scalloped edges. The design is in pen and black ink on laid paper although it is difficult to see the latter feature because the paper appears to be sewn on to a backing sheet. The front edge of the design is turned over and the backing sheet is sewn on with white silk thread. There are pinholes on two of the longest turned over edges but not on the shorter sides. There are no holes for pouncing. There is what appears to be a grid of pinholes that are visible on the back of the design when it is held up to the light.

Place of Origin

London (probably, designed)

Date

1784-1792 (designed)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Fleur-de-lys and a figure of Britannia within an oval surmounted by a crown. There is also a separate crown, beneath which are letters (illegible because of the double thickness of paper).
The fleur-de-lys is no. '1707' in Heawood, Edward. Watermarks: mainly of the 17th and 18th centuries, Holland, Hilversum: Paper Publications Society, 1950. 102. p., 229, pl. ill. 'London 1767. A. Dalrymple: "Tracts".

Dimensions

Height: 36.2 cm, Width: 24.1 cm

Object history note

The designs were bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1973 by Raymond Johnes who had 'enormous and miscellaneous collections'.* Johnes' collection included Japanese art, on which he published,** Indian and European material. He did not specialise in collecting textiles although he owned some examples. He was in contact with the Museum 1920s-1970 offering to sell objects from his collection. Johnes did not provide the Museum with information about the history of ownership of the designs.

*Mr B.W. Robinson, former Keeper of the Far Eastern Department, V&A, in a letter to Mr Ayres, Assistant- Keeper in the same Department, V&A Regsitry, nominal file, (MA/1/J479).

**Johnes, Raymond. Japanese Art London: Spring Books, 1961.

Descriptive line

Anonymous designs for embroidery, 18th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Germain de Saint-Aubin, C. L'Art du Brodeur, 1770, Scheuer, Nikki. (translated and ed.) and Maeder, Edward. (ed.). Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and D. Godine, Publisher, Boston and London, 1983. 57. p.
Heawood, Edward, Watermarks: mainly of the 17th and 18th centuries, Holland, Hilversum: Paper Publications Society, 1950, 102. p., 229, pl. ill.

Production Note

The design comes from a group of designs that were part of a retailer's archive which employed professional embroiderers. The names of the female clients inscribed on the designs were of the aristocracy, gentry or from wealthy families that moved in the upper reaches of society. They had homes in the country and came to London for the season. Retailers who sold such designs were linen drapers and lacemakers, both of which categories existed in London and were available to the clients. Many pattern drawers worked in London where their trade proved a lucrative business during the season. The similarity of some of the designs from this group to those by Styart, whose designs were published in London, does support the argument that these designs came from a retailer's archive based in London.

Attribution note: The design must have been used repeatedly judging by the amount of pinholes which caused the need to strengthen it by sewing on a support. The design seems to have been used after backing because there are pinholes in the turned-over edges and through the backing. The backing was not therefore a paper conservation measure to strengthen the design in, for example, a museum collection because it would not have been used afterwards in such a context. The design seems to be for a border. It is probably a design for a border to a petticoat because of the width of the border and there is no indication of a right angle to the border as there often, but not always, is for an apron. For an example of a design for an apron without a suggestion of a right-angle see E.245-1973. Examples of designs for aprons which indicate a right-angle are E.247-1973. A dress with an embroidered petticoat and border is in the Museum of London MOL. 51.20/1 and a similar network of lines to this design can be seen in an Indian embroidered muslin dress, for the European market, in the same Museum MOL.65.80/1. The gird of pinholes was used to sew the design with tacking stitches to the underside of muslin or gauze that is stretched on an embroidery frame or a tambour frame. The black ink of the design would have shown through the transparent textile and the design could have been embroidered, without tracing it on to the textile with watercolour. Saint-Aubin described this process. Germain de Saint-Aubin, Charles. L'Art du Brodeur, 1770. The amount of use suggests that this design was in demand by clients.
Reason For Production: Retail

Materials

Ink; Paper

Techniques

Drawing

Categories

Embroidery; Designs; Textiles; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Design

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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