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Furnishing fabric
  • Furnishing fabric
    Huet, Jean-Baptiste, born 1745 - died 1811
  • Enlarge image

Furnishing fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Jouy-en-Josas (made)

  • Date:

    1802-1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Huet, Jean-Baptiste, born 1745 - died 1811 (designer)
    Manufacture Royale de Oberkampf a Jouy (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plate-printed cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by H. Hodgkin, Esq.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This furnishing fabric shows scenes from Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's romantic novel, Paul et Virginie, published in Paris in 1788. The novel shows the influence of contemporary philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's concept of 'The Noble Savage', which encouraged a return to nature, where humans would not be exposed to the corrupting influences of modern society.

Paul and Virginie are two children raised in relative seclusion on the island of Mauritius. Free from the constraints and troubles of their European contemporaries, the children grow to be happy and fulfilled until Virginie returns to France to secure the fortune of an ailing relative, leaving Paul desolate. On her return to the island, the ship carrying Virginie is wrecked on the coast during a hurricane. As the ship sinks, one of the sailors urges Virginie to dive into the sea and let him swim her to shore. However, Virginie's modesty precludes her from undressing in front of the sailor and so she chooses to drown instead.

Popular works of fiction like Bernardin de Saint Pierre's often inspired designs for Jouy's printed cottons; the romantic sensibility of the late eighteenth century, as encapsulated by Paul et Virginie, with its doomed lovers and tragic ending, would have held enduring appeal for the nineteenth-century designer of this fabric.

Physical description

Length of furnishing fabric of plate-printed cotton in red on a white ground. The pattern depicts four scenes from Bernardin de Saint Pierre's romantic novel 'Paul et Virginie'. The scenes consists of the mothers with two children and dogs sitting amid tropical vegetation, a story-teller seeing children sheltering from the rain beneath Virginia's skirts, Virginia moving with outstretched hand towards two men in a boat waiting to carry her out to the ship and Paul kneels clinging to her waist, and, in the smallest scene, Paul kneeling beside the body of the drowned Virginia and in the background are rocks and the wrecked ship.

The pieces of the cotton are patched together to make a complete width with the fragments of the selvedge on each side. There is well over a repeat (20.125 inches) in the height of the panel. One and a half repeats in the length. No full repeat in the width.

Place of Origin

Jouy-en-Josas (made)


1802-1840 (made)


Huet, Jean-Baptiste, born 1745 - died 1811 (designer)
Manufacture Royale de Oberkampf a Jouy (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Plate-printed cotton


Height: 31.5 in approx., Width: 38.25 in

Descriptive line

Length of furnishing fabric of plate-printed cotton, designed by Jean-Baptiste Huet, made by Manufacture Royale de Oberkampf, Jouy-en-Josas, France, 1802-1840




Plate printing

Subjects depicted

Seashore; Trees; Noble Savage, Rousseau; Romanticism; Shipwreck; Ships


Textiles; Interiors


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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