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  • Place of origin:

    London (designed)

  • Date:

    1788 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink on paper

  • Museum number:


  • 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 for an apron which women wore over a gown as fashionable informal dress. The seaweed pattern and small circles that fill the areas between it are similar to a design for an apron for Miss Thrale that is dated
'Nov. 21 st 1788'. Miss Thrale was the daughter of a wealthy brewer who moved in the highest reaches of society in the eighteenth century. This pattern was for also for a fashionable client from the aristocracy, gentry or a wealthy family.

Physical description

The design is in pen and ink on a square sheet of laid paper. The design shows outer and inner borders. In the area between the borders is a repeated pattern of four dots arranged in a diamond shape. There are pinholes in two opposite corners and a few towards the centre of the sheet of paper. There are no holes for pouncing. There is smudging of the ink, for example, in the bottom left corner.

Place of Origin

London (designed)


1788 (designed)



Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

The watermark is not in Heawood, Edward, Watermarks: mainly of the 17th and 18th centuries, Holland, Hilversum: Paper Publications Society, 1950.


Height: 32.4 cm, Width: 20.3 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

Production Note

The design is for an apron because of the right-angle in the scalloped edge. A design from the group of designs, of which this is one, with a right-angled, scalloped edge and inscribed 'apron' is E.247-1973. The seaweed pattern and circles, although not arranged on a grid, is in another design from this group E.227-1973 and the seaweed pattern with other motifs filling the space, between, is in yet another pattern from this group E.229-1973. This similarity of motifs suggests that one pattern-drawer, or perhaps an assistant in the same workshop, designed them all.

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.


Ink; Paper




Embroidery; Designs; Textiles; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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