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Design

Design

  • Place of origin:

    England, Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1788-1792 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kilburn, William, born 1745 - died 1818 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    painted in watercolour on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased from the funds of the Capt. H. B. Murray Bequest

  • Museum number:

    E.894:97-1978

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case ABOVE 95EW, shelf 100, box A4

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Design for a printed cotton by William Kilburn. He was born in Dublin and was apprenticed to a cotton and linen printer at Lucan, near Dublin. He moved to London and sold designs to calico printers, and drawings and engravings to print shops. The botanist William Curtis employed him to do some of the plates for the . Subsequently Kilburn managed and then purchased a calico-printing factory at Wallington in Surrey. Dismayed at the pirating of his designs, he was involved in a successful petition to parliament in 1787 to protect the copyright of designs. Kilburn's pieces of muslin chintz are said to have sold for as much as a guinea a yard and he presented one of them (a seaweed pattern) to Queen Charlotte. But his exquisitely detailed fabrics had been copied, printed and marketed by rival firms within ten days of their first appearance at Brown, Rogers & Co., the wholesale linen drapers in Cheapside who were the proprietors of most of Kilburn's designs. These imitations were printed in fewer colours on cheaper cloth and, although coarser in appearance, were offered for sale at two-thirds of the price of the original.

Physical description

This design shows long stems in green, brown and blue that are intertwined in a Z-shape, which takes up the whole design. The stems have green, brown, light-red, yellow and blue leaves, and pink, blue, yellow, white and purple flowers and buds. There is a pink rose bud in the right hand corner. The background is lilac in colour.

Place of Origin

England, Great Britain (made)

Date

ca. 1788-1792 (made)

Artist/maker

Kilburn, William, born 1745 - died 1818 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

painted in watercolour on paper

Dimensions

Height: 35.2 cm, Width: 26.3 cm

Object history note

William Kilburn was born in Dublin and was apprenticed to a cotton and linen printer at Lucan. He moved to London and sold designs to calico printers, and drawings and engravings to print shops. The botanist William Curtis employed him to do some of the plates for the Flora Londiniensis. Subsequently Kilburn managed and then purchased a calico-printing factory at Wallington in Surrey. Dismayed at the pirating of his designs, he was involved in a successful petition to parliament in 1787 to protect the copyright of designs. Kilburn's pieces of muslin chintz are said to have sold for as much as a guinea a yard and he presented one of them (a seaweed pattern) to Queen Charlotte. But his exquisitely detailed fabrics had been copied, printed and marketed by rival firms within ten days of their first appearance at Brown, Rogers & Co., the wholesale linen drapers in Cheapside who were the proprietors of most of Kilburn's designs. These imitations were printed in fewer colours on cheaper cloth and, although coarser in appearance, were offered for sale at two-thirds of the price of the original. In spite of his invention of so many original patterns, particularly his delicate seaweed motifs, Kilburn went bankrupt in April 1802.

Descriptive line

Design from an album of designs for printed textiles (1788-1792) by William Kilburn

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

Longfield, Ada, K. William Kilburn and the earliest Copyright acts for Cotton Printing Designs. The Burlington Magazine vol. XCV, 1953, pp.230-233.
Blunt, Wilfrid. The Art of Botanical Illustration. 1950, p.189
O'Brien, C. The British Manufacturers Companion and Calico Printers Assistant. 1792

Production Note

There is a furnishing fabric by William Kilburn, 1775, Circ.91-1960, and a printed cotton of about 1800 with a seaweed-like pattern which is possibly by William Kilburn, T.84-1991 in FTF.

Materials

Paper; Watercolour

Techniques

Painting

Subjects depicted

Design for printed textile

Categories

Textiles; Designs; Pattern books

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O155961
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