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Design

  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, designed)

  • Date:

    1782-1794 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink on laid paper

  • Museum number:

    E.247-1973

  • 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 for an apron which women wore over a gown as fashionable informal dress. 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.

This design is inscribed 'Apron Lady Webster'. This is Lady Godfrey Webster. She was Elizabeth Vassall, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who married Sir Godfrey Webster in 1786. Lady Webster knew Lord and Lady Sheffield and other clients of the retailer of embroidery designs who were Lord Sheffield's daughter Maria Josepha Holroyd and the Pelhams but not intimately. Lady Webster corresponded with Maria Josepha Holroyd and the latter mentions her in letters to other people. See Holroyd, Maria Josepha. Adeane, J., ed. The Girlhood of Maria Josepha Holroyd. London: Longmans, 1896. 23-24 pp. 213 & 238 pp.

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 (probably, designed)

Date

1782-1794 (designed)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink on laid paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Apron Lady Webster'
In pen and brown ink in handwriting on the back right corner of the design

A figure of Britannia (truncated) within an oval surmounted by a crown.
This is a watermark

Dimensions

Height: 19.7 cm, Width: 21 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)

Kidson, Alex. George Romney. London: National Portrait Gallery Publications, 2003. 198 p. 81 fig. ill. ISBN hb1855145014 & ISBNpb1855143348
Holroyd, Maria Josepha. The Girlhood of Maria Josepha Holroyd. London: Longmans, 1896. 23-24, 213& 238 pp.

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 museum number is placed at the bottom of the patterned right-angle and gives the curator's opinion on the orientation of the design. An earlier apron, 1760s-1770s, in the Museum of London has whitework corners and drawnwork panels MOL. Z.1084.. There is a concentration of pattern in the corner of the right-angle which is a feature of this design although the whitework embroidery, in the apron itself, is an earlier type of pattern. A later apron, 1780s-1790s, with a whitework embroidered border and internal sprigs is in the same Museum. The embroidery is on a smaller scale and in that way is more similar to this design MOL. Z.805.

Materials

Ink; Laid paper

Techniques

Drawing

Categories

Embroidery; Designs; Textiles; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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