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  • Place of origin:

    Spitalfields (woven)

  • Date:

    ca. 1746 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brocaded silk tobine

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs K. E. Adams

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1

Object Type
This fabric, intended for ladies' gowns, is a brocaded silk tobine. The technique of brocading allowed different colours to be introduced into the pattern of a fabric in specific, sometimes very small areas. It was a more laborious process for the weaver than using patterning wefts running from selvedge to selvedge, but the resulting effect could be much more varied and lively. The additional effect which makes this silk a tobine is the pattern in the ground, created with an extra warp which in some fabrics is of contrasting colour but in this case is the same colour as the ground. The silk has a further, third decorative effect introduced in the weave, of blue satin stripes.

Design & Designing
In the article on silk designing from a contemporary handbook to art and manufacture, George Smith's Laboratory or School of Arts, the author recommends that pattern-drawers should take advantage of the seasonal variety offered by nature. 'Every season of the year produces .... plants, flowers and shrubs, as afford greater varieties than we are able to imitate. Summer will in like manner furnish a manufacturer with a vast variety of new and beautiful objects...and the produce of flowers thereof...will charm the eye.' The naturalistic drawing of the flowers in this dress fabric illustrates this characteristic of English silks very well.

Physical description

Fabric of a white ground with two broad blue edged stripes, brocaded with sprays of mixed flowers. The flowers are life size and brocaded with emerald green stems and two shades of blue, raspberry pink, pale pink, yellow, crimson and salmon pink and touches of black. Each successive repeat is reversed and there are three repeats in all.

Place of Origin

Spitalfields (woven)


ca. 1746 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Brocaded silk tobine


Length: 99.06 cm, Width: 52.7 cm, Length: 26.375 in repeat, Width: 20 in repeat

Object history note

Woven in Spitalfields, London

Descriptive line

Fabric of brocaded silk tobine, Spitalfields, London, ca. 1746.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The fairly short pattern repeat in this silk has been made to appear more complex by reversing it and alternating some colours. Additional complexity and layering is created with the blue satin stripe and the self-coloured effect. The designer may have indicated these colour combinations, or the weaver may have introduced them into the pattern. [27/03/2003]


Textiles; Women's clothes


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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