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Design

Design

  • Place of origin:

    Spitalfields (possibly, designed)

  • Date:

    1733-1735 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Leman, James, born 1688 - died 1745 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund

  • Museum number:

    E.1861:2-1991

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This design is from an album that contains 104 designs for fine woven silk cloth. A constant supply of fashionable new designs from which to create new lines was required, so patternmakers and master weavers like James Leman supplied a wide range of designs for different weavers. The album contains some of his work from the period 1706-1716, as well as five designs from the 1730s, including this one which is from about 1733-1735.

Natalie Rothstein stated in her catalogue Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century that 'This kind of design, with a house among trees with outsize fruit is typical of the years 1733 to 1735. The use of points rentrés modelling suggests that this drawing cannot anyway have been executed before 1733'.

James Leman was born in 1688 into a weaving family of Huguenot descent. In 1702 he was apprenticed to his father, Peter, and lived with his family in Stewart Street, Spitalfields in London.

Physical description

Design for woven silk from the 'Leman Album', in pencil, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper, depicting a grey house among green trees with outsize orange, yellow and brown fruit and pink and red flowers, surrounded by green leaves.

There are pencil sketches at the top of the sheet of paper. This design is pasted to another paper possibly with a design on it: E.1861.3-1991 (VS.2). Only the edge of this lower sheet of paper can be seen and the number of the dezines is visible on this lower sheet.

Place of Origin

Spitalfields (possibly, designed)

Date

1733-1735 (designed)

Artist/maker

Leman, James, born 1688 - died 1745 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper

Dimensions

Height: 47 cm, Width: 28 cm, Height: 18.5 in, Width: 11 in

Object history note

This is a design from the so-called 'Leman album' which was bought from Vanners Silks Ltd. in 1991. Natalie Rothstein catalogued the designs before the album was bought by the Victoria and Albert Museum. She gave each design a VS number (for Vanners Silks) in her catalogue Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century. The designs have been subsequently numbered by the Prints, Drawings and Paintings Department, however, a concordance exists.

Historical significance: The designs collected in the album are, with the exception of some fragmentary medieval examples in Italian collections, the earliest silk designs known to exist.

Descriptive line

Design for woven silk from the 'Leman Album', pencil, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper, possibly by James Leman, 1733-1735

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

p. 107, pl. 115
Rothstein, Natalie. Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century in the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London with a Complete Catalogue with 473 Illustrations, 371 in Colour. London: Thames and Hudson, 1990. 351p., ill. ISBN 0500235899.

Production Note

The following information is taken from Natalie Rothstein, Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century. Please see the bibliographic reference under 'References' for more details.

'This kind of design, with a house among trees with outsize fruit is typical of the years 1733 to 1735. The use of points rentrés modelling suggests that this drawing cannot anyway have been executed before 1733.'

Rothstein also stated that this drawing is one of five (E.1861.2-1991 (VS.1), E.1861.55-1991 (VS.97), E.1861.85-1991 (VS.76), E.1861.101-1991 (VS.92), E.1861.105-1991 (VS.96)) 'which fall outside the main body of the Vanners Silks Set. They are all of much later date. This can be seen by comparing them with dated designs in the [Anna Maria] Garthwaite Set [in the Prints, Drawings and Paintings Department at the V&A] and with dated French designs in Paris and Lyon. The choice of motifs, the much greater degree of naturalism and the use in all but VS.76 [E.1861.85-1991] of points rentrésindicate for all of them a date in the 1730s.

It is conceivable that some of these drawings are by James Leman who was still alive in the 1730s. The short English inscription on VS.76 [E.1861.85-1991] may be in his hand and the inscription itself, together with the fact that three of the drawings have been squared off for drafting, does seem to indicate that these patterns were woven in England.

But the superb design VS.96 [E.1861.105-1991] and to a lesser extent VS.96 [E.1861.85-1991] and VS.92 [E.1861.101-1991], so resemble French designs of the period that they must either be actual French drawings or close copies of them. There can be no doubt that VS.96 [E.1861.105-1991] is French and possibly by Jean Revel himself. It would have been perfectly in accordance with the practice at Spitalfields for Leman to have been in possession of French designs for woven silks: among the group of designs belonging to Garthwaite is a whole series labelled 'French Patterns'. The present five designs [E.1861.2-1991 (VS.1), E.1861.55-1991 (VS.97), E.1861.85-1991 (VS.76), E.1861.101-1991 (VS.92), E.1861.105-1991 (VS.96)] may represent some of Leman's 'French Patterns'.'

Materials

Pencil; Watercolour; Bodycolour; Laid paper

Techniques

Painting; Drawing

Categories

Designs; Textiles

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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