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Design

Design

  • Place of origin:

    France (possibly, designed)
    Spitalfields, England (possibly, designed)

  • Date:

    1735-1739 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil, pen and ink, 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.1861:101-1991

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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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 1735-1739.

Natalie Rothstein stated in Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century that 'this rather simple design with points rentrés modelling seems to date from the later 1730s'. Points rentrés modelling was an adaptation of a technique used by tapestry weavers which enabled tones of colour to be dovetailed, thus producing the effect of three dimensional form. The brocading weft is only taken across the width of the motif rather than from selvedge to selvedge (edge to edge) of the cloth which is the case with the main weft.

This design may be a French original even though it is squared off for drafting in point paper before entering the pattern onto the loom. It is somewhat similar to a design now in the Musée Historique des Tissus at Lyon.

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, pen and ink, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper, depicting a branch bearing pears, leaves, plums and rounded fruit.

Squared up in pencil for cords and dezines, with dezines numbered in pencil.

Place of Origin

France (possibly, designed)
Spitalfields, England (possibly, designed)

Date

1735-1739 (designed)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil, pen and ink, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper

Marks and inscriptions

Squared up in pencil for cords and dezines, with dezines numbered in pencil.

Dimensions

Height: 40.3 cm, Width: 27.6 cm, Height: 15.875 in, Width: 10.875 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, pen and ink, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper, 1735-1739

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

Full text of the entry is as follows: '[Unnumbered, no inscription] Squared up in pencil for cords and dezines, with dezines numbered in pencil. This rather simple design with points rentrés modelling seems to date from the later 1730s. Although this is sqaured off for drafting, this too may be a French original. It is somewhat similar to a design now in the Musée Historique des Tissus at Lyon. 15 7/8" (40.3) x 10 7/8" (27.6) HJ.554 VS92'

Exhibition History

Flowered Silks (Victoria and Albert Museum 08/08/1990-28/08/1990)

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 rather simple design with points rentrés modelling seems to date from the later 1730s. Although this is squared off for drafting, this too may be a French original. It is somewhat similar to a design now in the Musée Historique des Tissus at Lyons.'

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; Ink; Bodycolour

Techniques

Drawing; Painting

Categories

Textiles; Designs

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O65258
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