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  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, designed)

  • Date:

    21/11/1788 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and brown ink on laid paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case T, shelf 10, box A

This is a design for embroidery on muslin or gauze. It is for an apron which women wore over a gown as fashionable informal dress. The design continues around a right-angle which is a feature of designs for aprons. The design is inscribed 'Miss Thrales pattern Nov. 21st 1788'. Miss Thrale was the daughter of a wealthy brewer and they had a large house in Streatham, now in the South East of London but then in the country. Miss Thrale's mother was a close friend of Dr Samuel Johnson, one of England's greatest writers. Miss Thrale moved in the upper reaches of society including royalty.

Physical description

Design of two meanders of a seaweed-like plant with a meander on one side with little circles scattered in the spaces between on laid paper. The design has fold marks indicating that it was folded into four. There are pinholes in all four corners and in the centre of the long sides of the rectangular sheet of paper.

Place of Origin

London (probably, designed)


21/11/1788 (designed)



Materials and Techniques

Pen and brown ink on laid paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Miss Thrales / pattern / Nov. 21st / 1788'
In pen and pale brown ink.

Watermark of a figure of Britannia within an oval.
This watermark is similar to no. 210 in Heawood, Oliver. Watermarks: mainly of the 17th and 18th centuries Holland: Hilversum, Paper Publications Society, 1950. 69 p., 32. pl., ill.


Height: 32.6 cm, Width: 20 cm

Object history note

The designs were bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1973 by Raymond Johnes who had 'enormous and miscellaneous collections'.* Johnes' collection included Japanese art, on which he published,** Indian and European material. He did not specialise in collecting textiles although he owned some examples. He was in contact with the Museum 1920s-1970 offering to sell objects from his collection. Johnes did not provide the Museum with information about the history of ownership of the designs.

*Mr B.W. Robinson, former Keeper of the Far Eastern Department, V&A, in a letter to Mr Ayres, Assistant- Keeper in the same Department, V&A Regsitry, nominal file, (MA/1/J479).

**Johnes, Raymond. Japanese Art London: Spring Books, 1961.

Historical significance: This design belonged to Hester Thrale known as 'Queeney'. According to Mrs Papendiek, Court and Private Life in the Time of Queen Charlotte, , Mrs V.D. Broughton (ed.), vol. 2 (1887), 106-107 pp. Miss Thrale's maternal grandmother was the 'renowned classic scholar, and the daughter, when still Mrs Thrale, the same' and her father was 'Mr Thrale, the great porter brewer and member for Southwark'. Queeney Thrale distanced herself from her mother when the latter married Mr Piozzi (Queeney's singing master). Queeney's 'fortune was high' and she, with three of her sisters, apparently mixed in Court circles since her mother remarked 'Well! The other three are busy Misses; dancing and frolicking' 'with the Princes at Weymouth and Brighthelmstone.'

Descriptive line

Design for embroidery on a muslin apron

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

Heawood, Edward. Watermarks: mainly of the 17th and 18th centuries. Holland, Hilversum, Paper Publications Society, 1950. 69, p., 32, pl., ill.

Production Note

The design comes from a group of designs that were part of a retailer's archive which employed professional embroiderers. The names of the female clients inscribed on the designs were of the aristocracy, gentry or from wealthy families that moved in the upper reaches of society. Miss Thrale, who is the client named on this design, was the daughter of a wealthy brewer. Her parents had a large house in Streatham, which was then in the country, and she visited London for the season. Retailers who sold such designs were linen drapers and lacemakers, both of which categories existed in London and were available to the clients. Many pattern drawers worked in London where their trade proved a lucrative business during the season. The similarity of some of the designs from this group to those by Styart, whose designs were published in London, does support the argument that these designs came from a retailer's archive based in London.

Attribution note: The pinholes in all four corners and in the centre of the long sides of the rectangular sheet of paper indicate where the design was pinned to muslin on a frame for the design either to be copied directly by the embroiderer or painted onto muslin for the embroiderer to work over.
Reason For Production: Retail


Ink; Paper



Subjects depicted

Design for embroidery; Aprons (protective wear)


Designs; Embroidery; Designs; Textiles; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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