Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Furnishing fabric

Furnishing fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Bromley Hall (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ollive and Talwin (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plate-printed cotton

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118a, case 7

Object Type
This furnishing fabric has been printed using an engraved copper plate. The introduction of copper-plate printing in the 1750s meant new possibilities in the development of printed textile design, allowing a fineness of detail and delicacy of drawing which had not been achieved in earlier woodblock printed textiles. It also allowed much larger pattern repeats, which made it particularly suitable for bed hangings.

Materials & Making
China blue, which has been used here, was a complex process for printing with indigo known abroad as 'English blue'. It gave beautiful fast blues, but by a technique that could not be used with those needed for other colours, so 'pencilling' (hand-painting) of indigo was still needed for polychrome designs. The indigo was printed directly onto the cloth by plate or block as a finely-ground paste. The cloth was then immersed alternately in baths of lime (to dissolve the indigo) and iron-sulphate (to reduce it) as many times as was necessary to achieve the desired strength of blue.

Bromley Hall, where this fabric was printed, was on the right bank of the River Lea in Poplar, East London. It was probably the largest of the early print works, first mentioned in the 1740s, and it continued in operation into the early 19th century.

Physical description

Furnishing fabric of plate-printed cotton. Printed from an engraved copper plate in Chine-blue on cotton. The fabric has a white ground printed with a design of exotic plants on feathery stems. There are two blue threads in each selvedge.

Place of Origin

Bromley Hall (made)


ca. 1780 (made)


Ollive and Talwin (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Plate-printed cotton


Height: 80.7 cm, Width: 72.5 cm

Descriptive line

Furnishing fabric of plate-printed cotton, made by Ollive and Talwin, Bromley Hall, ca. 1780

Labels and date

British Galleries:
A technique of printing with indigo to achieve colourfast blue had been developed in England in the 1740s. English printers knew it as china blue, but the French called it 'bleu d'Angleterre' (English blue). It could not be used with other techniques, so china blue prints were always monochrome. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Made by the firm of Ollive and Talwin, Bromley Hall, near London


Textiles; Interiors


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.