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The Garden of Love

  • Object:

    Furnishing textile

  • Place of origin:

    Nantes (Manufactured)

  • Date:

    about 1790 (Manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plate printed cotton

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This scene of idealised rural pursuits in a rustic setting 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 where a number of different manufacturers were active. The most famous cotton-printing factory, however, 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.

Physical description

Plate printed cotton in blue on white ground, showing scenes of idealised rural life including shepherds and shepherdesses and their flocks, amorous doves, dancing and sailing, all adorned with garlands of flowers, and complemented by classical monuments and vases.

Place of Origin

Nantes (Manufactured)


about 1790 (Manufactured)



Materials and Techniques

Plate printed cotton


Length: 242.5 cm, Width: 159 cm, Length: 93.5 cm repeat

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 1790, French; Plate printed, Nantes; The Garden of Love

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

Sarah Grant, Toiles de Jouy. French Printed Cottons, V&A Publishing, 2010, pp. 44-45, catalogue 10

Production Note

Attribution note: Probably batch produced rather than mass-produced (i.e. not unique).




Copper plate printing

Subjects depicted

Dancing; Roses; Doves; Monuments; Garlands; Bow; Trees; Birds; Sheep; Shepherds; Arrow; Landscape; Statues; Flowers; Arches; Water; Sailing; Shepherdesses




Textiles and Fashion Collection

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