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Textile fragment

Textile fragment

  • Place of origin:

    France (probably, made)
    Lyon, France (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1792 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brocaded silk

  • Museum number:

    T.265-1958

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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This fragment of blue silk with a silver pattern may have been part of the last order for furnishing textiles made by the administrator of the Crown Furniture Repository (Gardemeuble) in France in 1791. He requested 300 ells (approximately 400 yards) of fabric for Queen Marie Antoinette's apartments at the palace of Saint Cloud. The silk was originally intended for upholstery and wall hangings, and was called a 'blue and silver damask lampas' in the contemporary documents. The order was delivered in April 1792, just a few months before Marie Antoinette was guillotined. The entire quantity of the fabric was used by the Revolutionary government in 1796 to pay off a national debt to Greek merchants who may have considered melting down the silver to change it into currency.

The pattern was composed of three subjects: children, vases and cupids; animals at rest; and the departure of Diana (goddess of hunting). The border was to be made up of caryatides with a brownish ground. Camille Pernon, the most prominent of silk manufacturers in Lyon, manufactured the fabric which was to cost about 50 livres per ell. By the time of the order's delivery, inflation had raised the cost to over 76 livres per ell. The total was extremely extravagant; at that time a master weaver in Lyon might earn about 1,800 livres per year and the lowliest employee in the silk industry earned only 200 livres per year.

Physical description

Fragment of woven silk damask in pale blue and silver, showing part of a longer repeat pattern. The pattern is a point repeat (i.e. symmetrical about a vertical axis). In the centre stands an obelisk decked with arrows, spears and garlands; from this central motif the goddess Diana departs for the hunt; she is framed by a tree, a classical temple with an urn above it, an archway with swags and an eagle perched above; below the figure of Diana are doves, and above the eagle is a crest of feathers; in the top left hand corner, is a figure half man and half plant. The textile is unevenly shaped and sewn on to a backing cloth; the selvedges are turned in.

The fabric is a tissue with a satin ground and two pattern wefts, one of white silk and one of silver thread. The white silk is bound in plain weave on the face of the textile, the silver thread (on a white core) is unbound on the face of the textile but bound in plain on the back. For some details the two threads are used together in order to make a third effect. The selvedge has two cords of rust-pink silk and all the wefts in a pass working together in plain weave.

Place of Origin

France (probably, made)
Lyon, France (probably, made)

Date

ca. 1792 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Brocaded silk

Dimensions

Length: 49 in, Width: 20.5 in

Object history note

This fragment of blue silk with a silver pattern may have been part of the last order for furnishing textiles made by the administrator of the Crown Furniture Repository (Gardemeuble) in France in 1791. He requested 300 ells (approximately 400 yards) of fabric for Queen Marie Antoinette's apartments at the palace of Saint Cloud. The order was delivered in 1792, just a few months before she was guillotined. It was called a 'blue and silver damask lampas' in the contemporary documents. The entire quantity of the fabric was used by the Revolutionary government in 1796 to pay off a national debt to Greek merchants who may have considered melting down the silver to change it into currency. The silk was originally intended as both upholstery and as wallhangings. According to the original order, the pattern was composed of three subjects: firstly, children, vases and cupids, secondly, animals at rest, such as lions, leopards or tigers, and thirdly, the departure of Diana (goddess of hunting) for the hunt. The border was to be made up of caryatides with a brownish ground. Camille Pernon, the most prominent of silk manufacturers in Lyon, undertook to manufacture the fabric which was to cost about 50 livres per ell. By the time of the order's delivery in April 1792, inflation had raised the cost to over 76 livres per ell. The total was extremely extravagant given that at that time a master weaver in Lyon might earn about 1,800 livres per year and the lowliest employee in the silk industry earned only 200 livres per year. Similar designs in less costly materials (blue and white) were woven in the 19th and 20th century, and there are also wallpapers in similar colours with similar motifs.

Descriptive line

Woven silk fragment, brocaded in silver on a blue ground, French, ca. 1792

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

Chantal Gastinel-Coural. Soieries de Lyon. Commandes royales au XVIIIe siècle. Lyon: Musée Historique des Tissus, 1988, p. 79
Peter K. Thornton. Baroque and Rococo Silks. London: Faber and Faber, 1965, pl. 110B.
Anna Jolly. Fürstliche Interieurs. Dekorationstextilien des 18. Jahrhunderts. Abegg-Stiftung, 2005, pp.142-3 and sample of wallpaper of same design, deeper blue and white, pp. 144-145 (Inv. Nr 13.150.02).
Only Coural and Thornton relate to this piece of silk. Jolly shows similar silks and wallpaper of cheaper manufacture.

Production Note

Attribution based on the documentation provided by Chantal Coural in 'Soieries de Lyon', Musée Historique des Tissus, Lyons, 1988.

Attribution note: This type of textile was usually only made to commission due to the costliness of the materials.

Materials

Silk thread; Silver thread

Subjects depicted

Temples; Diana; Doves; Urns; Eagles (birds)

Categories

Textiles

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection code

T&F

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Qr_O119062
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