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Furnishing fabric - The Cherished Sheep

The Cherished Sheep

  • Object:

    Furnishing fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Nantes (manufactured)

  • Date:

    about 1785 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Favre Petitpierre et Cie (manufactured)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper-plate printed cotton

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This scene of idealised rural pursuits is typical of the pastoral scenes printed on cotton textiles in the late 18th century in various centres of cotton printing across northern Europe, including Nantes. The most famous copperplate printing factory was propitiously located at Jouy-en-Josas, half way between Paris and Versailles, the main residences of the French court – and the most desired market for these expensive furnishings textiles.

At the end of the century, aristocratic nostalgia for country life was epitomised by the pursuits of the French Queen Marie Antoinette who played at being a shepherdess in the house and dairy specially built for her in the grounds of Versailles, the little Hameau (hamlet) at the Trianon.

Among scenes of romantic love and child rearing, working men and women at leisure, a game of blind man's buff is shown. This scene was probably inspired by an oil painting by the famous French court artist Jean Honoré Fragonard, painted around 1755-56 and now preserved in the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.

Physical description

Monochrome copper-plate printed cotton (a single pattern repeat), comprising six different scenes of idealised rural life, with human figures, animals, architectural features, all on islands of grass with trees. In the centre, a game of blind man's buff is being played.

Place of Origin

Nantes (manufactured)


about 1785 (manufactured)


Favre Petitpierre et Cie (manufactured)

Materials and Techniques

Copper-plate printed cotton


Length: 101 cm, Width: 97 cm, Length: 100 cm repeat

Object history note

One of the pieces of printed cotton purchased from Madame Mayoux, a Parisian gallery owner and collector, in 1919.

Historical context note

The V&A collection of French printed cottons dating to 1760-1830 comprises more than 500 textile fragments. Over 300 pattern books contain 300,000 designs of French printed cottons from the 18th to 20th centuries. These collections were largely shaped by acquisitions from three sources: Dr Robert Forrer, a Swiss-born archaeologist and antiques dealer (V&A acquisition in 1899), Madame Mayoux, a Parisian gallery owner and collector (V&A acquisitions in 1919) and Sara Lee Courtaulds (donation of Courtaulds' archive of pattern books, including eight from Oberkampf's factory at Jouy, in 2000). Other examples have been acquired by textile curators.

Descriptive line

printed cotton, about 1785, French; Plate printed, Nantes, Favre, Petitpierre et Cie.; The Cherished Sheep

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

Sarah Grant, Toiles de Jouy. French Printed Cottons, V&A Publishing, 2010, pp. 42-3, 59.

Production Note

Attribution note: Batch production probably, rather than true mass production (i.e. not unique)




Copper plate printing

Subjects depicted

Baby; Arch; Rural; Hamlet; Fountain; Flowers; Fence; Sheep; Foal; Shepherdess; Urn; Monument; Cow; Trees; Donkey




Textiles and Fashion Collection

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