Design

1735-1739 (designed)
Design thumbnail 1
Design thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pencil, pen and ink, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper
Brief Description
Design for woven silk from the 'Leman Album', pencil, pen and ink, watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper, 1735-1739
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.
Dimensions
  • Height: 40.3cm
  • Width: 27.6cm
  • Height: 15.875in
  • Width: 10.875in
Marks and Inscriptions
Squared up in pencil for cords and dezines, with dezines numbered in pencil. (Handwritten makers' and designer's marks in pencil, on the front of the design.)
Credit line
Purchased with Art Fund support and the National Heritage Memorial Fund
Object history
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.
Production
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'.'
Summary
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.
Bibliographic Reference
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.p. 107Full 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'
Other Number
VS.92 - Vanners Silks number
Collection
Accession Number
E.1861:101-1991

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record createdMay 8, 2002
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