Archive for the ‘Textiles’ Category

Silk and paper crossovers

January 29, 2014
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Chinese painted silk coverlet, 1760-1800, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. © V&A Images

On her ever-inspiring Style Court blog Courtney Barnes has just posted images of a delicately painted Chinese painted silk coverlet in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is thought to date from the second half of the eighteenth century.

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Chinese wallpaper hung at Nostell Priory in 1771 by Thomas Chippendale. ©National Trust Images/J. Whitaker

As Courtney writes in her post, this coverlet has some striking similarities with Chinese wallpaper, particularly in the way the trees and flowers, birds and rocks have been combined in artful vignettes against a neutral background. The picturesque rocks – and the basket and the lantern hung in the tree in the V&A coverlet – indicate that we are looking at carefully arranged garden scenes rather than untamed nature.

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Detail of the Chinese painted silk coverlet in the Victoria and Albert Museum. © V&A Images

The floral borders in the coverlet also have parallels in Chinese wallpaper. They appear in the borders which were supplied as separate strips to be fitted around the edges of the larger paper drops.

Chinese wallpaper border, hung in the Lower India Room at Penrhyn Castle in the early 1830s. ©National Trust/Andrew Nush

Chinese wallpaper border, hung in the Lower India Room at Penrhyn Castle in the early 1830s. ©National Trust/Andrew Nush

These borders are clearly idealised representations of ‘floweriness’: various different flowers appear to grow from the same stem or tendril.

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Pole screen decorated with Chinese painted paper at Osterley Park, probably second half eighteenth century. ©National Trust/Andrew Bush

The same serpentine floral patterns sometimes also broke free from their restricted border role, filling entire panels of paper or silk.

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Chinese painted silk upholstery at Attingham Park, first half nineteenth century. ©National Trust

You could almost call this an example of ‘the periphery taking over the centre’.

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Detail of the Chinese painted silk coverlet in the Victoria and Albert Museum. © V&A Images

Stylistically, the garden scenery on the V&A coverlet seems to have elements of both eighteenth- and nineteenth-century wallpapers.

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Detail from the Chinese wallpaper in the Lower India Room at Penrhyn Castle, hung early 1830s. ©National Trust/Andrew Bush

The scenery looks fairly realistic and ‘painterly’, which tends to be a characteristic of earlier, eighteenth-century wallpapers. But the tufts of grass in the foreground have something of the stylised look, and the colouring, of grass in nineteenth century wallpapers.

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Some of this will be included in the forthcoming catalogue of Chinese wallpapers in the historic houses of the National Trust, due to be published in early March. But this coverlet in the V&A was new to me and the fascinating relationship between painted papers and painted silks clearly needs further research.

Virtue and vice at Hardwick Hall

October 29, 2013
Detail of a painted wall hanging, depicting the conversion of Saul, c. 1600, in the Chapel at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of a painted wall hanging, depicting the conversion of Saul, c. 1600, in the Chapel at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

An exhibition at Hardwick Hall explores the political, religious, and social upheaval of the Reformation. It shows how these new ideas and beliefs were reflected in the historic interiors and collections of the house.

The virtuous Penelope, in an appliqué wall hanging in the Hall at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammondbyshire

The virtuous Penelope, in an appliqué wall hanging in the Hall at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammondbyshire

The exhibition, called Virtue and Vice, has been curated by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York. It has also benefited from the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project European Conversion Narratives, c.1550-1700.

The Eglantine table, inlaid with musical instruments, sheet music, games and arms, crests and mottoes, possibly c. 1567, in the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

The Eglantine table, inlaid with musical instruments, sheet music, games and arms, crests and mottoes, possibly c. 1567, in the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

In this video Dr Helen Smith, reader in Renaissance literature at the University of York, talks about the concept of the exhibition. And in this one a choral group performs the motet ‘Oh Lord in Thee is all my trust’ inlaid in the so-called Eglantine table in the High Great Chamber. At Hardwick, at least, Virtue seems to have found an ally in Beauty.

Interwoven globe

October 8, 2013
The state bed at Calke Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The state bed at Calke Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The ever-stimulating Style Court blog has recently been featuring the exhibition currently on at the Metropolitan Museum in New York entitled Interwoven Globe, about how the international trade in textiles the early modern period influenced design across the world.

The Chinese embroidered silk inside the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millarthe Chinese silk embroidered hangings on the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

The Chinese embroidered silk inside the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millarthe Chinese silk embroidered hangings on the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

I am perusing the catalogue at the moment, and it is fascinating to read how European motifs ended up in Chinese silks, and how Chinese and Japanese motifs were in turn copied in Europe. Some ‘exotic’ textiles, such as Indian painted cotton palampores, actually combined elements from China, Persia, India and England.

Phoenix embroidered onto the white silk covering of the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

Phoenix embroidered onto the white silk covering of the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

This important exhibition is a suitable excuse for me to show some images of the rather gorgeous state bed at Calke Abbey, which is hung with Chinese embroidered silk. The bed was probably made for King George I in about 1715, and seems to have been given to Lady Caroline Manners by Queen Caroline when she married Sir Henry Harpur, 5th Bt, in 1734. Since the bed was hardly ever put up at Calke (it was too tall for most of the rooms in the family part of the house) the silk has been quite well preserved.

Qilin embroiderd onto the blue silk covers on the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

Qilin embroiderd onto the blue silk covers on the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The blue material is like taffeta and is relatively light, while the white silk is heavier and has a satin finish. Tightly rolled peacock feathers were used for the knots in the tree trunks and the markings on the butterfly wings.

The private side of the public purse

March 30, 2012

Detail of the Lord Chancellor's purse of office at Wimpole Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

I was wrong when I said earlier that we didn’t have good photographs of purses of office in National Trust collections. There are some excellent images of the Lord Chancellor’s purse, worn and tarnished but still an extraordinary example of the embroiderer’s art, that belonged the Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire.

The Lord Chancellor's purse on display at Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The 1st Earl started out as an able and ambitious lawyer and politician and he went on to contribute to successive Whig governments. He was influential in shaping of the law of equity and the legal definition of marriage in England and Wales.

Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwick, as Lord Chancellor, by the Reverend James Wills (fl. 1746– d. 1777), c. 1740, at Erddig, inv. no. 1151294. His purse of office is propped up behind him. © National Trust Collections

He ended up being one of the longest-serving Lord Chancellors. It is said King George II did not recognise him after he left office since he had never before seen him without his robes of state and full wig.

Detail of the tarnished gold and silver thread on an angel's face on the Lord Chancellor's purse at Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Hardwicke purchased Wimpole in 1740 as a country house suited to his personal and dynastic ambitions. He employed the architect Henry Flitcroft to rebuild the house, which retains its external appearance from that time.

The south front of Wimpole Hall and St Andrew's parish church, both rebuilt by Henry Flitcroft for the 1st Earl of Hardwicke. ©National Trust Images/Rupert Truman

Wimpole was also the setting for Hardwicke’s growing family, especially during convivial late summer gatherings.  But then ‘family’ was often the equivalent of ‘business’ in the eighteenth century.

Portrait by Alan Ramsay of Jemima, Marchioness Grey and Countess of Hardwicke, the 1st Earl's daughter-in-law and a social networker in her own right. Inv. no. 207812.1 ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

Hardwicke’s eldest son Philip married Jemima, Marchioness Grey, and they lived at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. His eldest daughter Elizabeth married Admiral Anson who, when he wasn’t sailing the globe, lived at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire. Their distant Yorke cousins were based at Erddig, in Wrexham. The extended family was a power network as well as a social network (as I also touched on in this earlier post).

Patterns of beauty at Wightwick

June 21, 2011

A corner of the Great Parlour at Wightwick Manor. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The July 2011 issue of The World of Interiors features an article on Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton, with text by Nicholas Mander and photographs by Christopher Simon Sykes.

Detail of a piece of 'Diagonal Trail' fabric, designed by J.H. Dearle for Morris & Co, in the Oak Room at Wightwick. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

I thought I would use that as a pretext to show some more details of the amazing Arts and Crafts interiors at Wightwick.

Early Moorcroft vase in the Daisy Room at Wightwick. ©NTPL/Paul Raeside

Wightwick was built by Edward Ould for Theodore Mander, a prosperous Victorian paint and varnish manufacturer.

Detail of the 'Acanthus' wallpaper pattern, designed by William Morris in about 1875, in the eponymous Acanthus Bedroom at Wightwick Manor. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Theodore Mander was religious and public-spirited and was interested in John Ruskin’s ideas about the importance of craftsmanship and the inspiration of the past. His outlook is reflected in the Arts and Crafts-style decoration of the house.

Copy of the 'Kelmscott Chaucer', published by William Morris in 1896, his last major artistic project, at Wightwick Manor. ©NTPL/Paul Raeside

The house was further enriched by Theodore Mander’s eldest son Sir Geoffrey Mander and his wife, Pre-Raphaelite expert Rosalie Glynn Grylls. The Manders presented Wightwick Manor to the National Trust in 1937, when regard for anything Victorian was at a low ebb.

Detail of the 'Wild Tulip' wallpaper by Morris & Co in the Dining Room at Wightwick Manor. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Mander family subsequently continued to add choice pieces to the Wightwick collection, joined by several generous donors. In 2007, for instance, an anonymous benefactor gave a copy Morris’s Kelmscott Chaucer.

We love linen

June 15, 2011

The linen cupboard at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Selvedge, the textile magazine, is hosting an event entitled We Love Linen at historic Fenton House in Hampstead, London, on Tuesday 28 June.

The Laundry at Castle Ward, County Down. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Professor Amanda Vickery, historian and author of Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England (which was recently turned into the BBC series At Home with the Georgians) will speak about the role of household linens in Georgian England.

An eighteenth-century glass linen smoother, found in the ruins of West Mill, near Corfe Castle, Dorset. ©NTPL/Cristian Barnett

She will be followed by collector Elizabeth Baer, who will be showing a selection of antique linen, some of which will be available to purchase.

A goffering machine in the laundry at Castle Ward, County Down. This was a miniature mangle with ribbed surfaces to give linen a frilled finish. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Before the talks begin attendees will be able to enjoy a glass of wine with strawberries and cream and to explore the charming garden at Fenton House, weather permitting.

Detail of a linen damask napkin at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, woven with a ducal coronet and the Cavendish snake crest and embroidered with 'H' for Hardwick and the date 1827. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Tickets at £35 (concessions £30) can be booked via freephone +44 (0)208 341 9721 or via the event website.

William Morris’s influence at Standen

June 10, 2011

Embroidered cushion, probably worked by Maggie Beale, in the Drawing Room at Standen. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

I was struck by these images of the beautiful textiles at Standen, West Sussex, with their glowing colours and subtle designs.

The Drawing Room at Standen, with its Morris and Morris-inspired furnishings. ©NTPL/Michael Caldwell

The house was built  by Philip Webb between 1892 and 1894 for the Beale family. The interiors are one of the best surviving ensembles of the designs of William Morris.

Detail of the silk-embroidered wall hanging, based on William Morris's 'Artichoke' design and worked by Margaret Beale and her three eldest daughters in about 1896, in the North Bedroom at Standen. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The mistress of the house, Margaret Beale, was an exceptionally fine needlewomen, one of the upper middle and upper class Victorian women who helped to revive embroidery in Britain. Some of the embroidered textiles at Standen were worked by her.

Embroidered tapestry cushion, probably worked by Maggie Beale, in the Drawing Room at Standen. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

She also passed her skills on to her daughters. Maggie Beale, in particular, created cushion covers, bedspreads and stool-tops after her own designs, but in the Arts and Crafts style, featuring flowers grown in the Standen garden.

The North Bedroom at Standen, with various embroidered textiles worked by Margaret Beale and her daughters. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Other embroideries at Standen are based on Morris’s wallpaper designs.

Embroidered tapestry cushion, probably worked by Maggie Beale, in the Drawing Room at Standen. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The house and its garden were left to the National Trust by Helen Beale, another of Margaret’s daughters, in 1972.

The Drydens’ furniture at Canons Ashby

June 1, 2011

Portrait of Edward Dryden and his family by Jonathan Richardson the elder, c. 1716. ©NTPL

It’s nice if you know the names of the people conncected with specific pieces of early-eighteenth-century furniture; it is even better when you have a portrait of them.

View of the west front of Canons Ashby from the Green Court. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

The above portrait of Edward Dryden, his wife Elizabeth Allen and their children was purchased by the National Trust with the help of the Art Fund in 1987. Edward, a wealthy London grocer, was the nephew of the poet John Dryden.

Walnut chair with embroidered cover, part of a set supplied by Thomas Phil. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The picture hangs at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire, the house that Edward remodeled between 1708 and 1710. The painting also includes a glimpse of the just completed garden.

Sofa with needlework cover, from the set suplied by Thomas Phil. ©NTPL

The set of furniture was originally supplied by Thomas Phill of the Strand, who in 1716 submitted a bill for chairs with ‘frames of ye newest hashion stufft up in Lynnen’ and ‘for makeing ye needle worke covers & fixeing ym in the chaires.’ They were sold in 1938, but bought back and donated to Canons Ashby by an anonymous benefactor in 1983, soon after the National Trust had acquired and restored the house.

Questions of influence

January 28, 2011

Illustration from Johan Nieuhof’s ‘Embassy’ (1665 and subsequent editions). ©Edizioni White Star

In prepration for a talk that I am giving tonight I have been looking at the printed sources for chinoiserie. It is often very difficult to pinpoint the exact source for a particular design, but every now and again you come upon an exact match.

Chinoiserie tapestry at Belton House, Lincolnshire, commissioned from the Soho workshop in 1691 (acquired by the National Trust with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 1984). ©NTPL/Graham Challifour.

The illustrated book about China by Johan Nieuhof, entitled The Embassy … to … the Present Emperor of China and first published in 1665, seems to have been particularly influential. You can find echoes of the palaces, pagodas, trees and figures depicted there in all kinds of decorative art in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century.

But in the case of the bullock-drawn carriage shown above the motif was copied almost literally in the lower left-hand quadrant of an early 1690s Soho tapestry at Belton House.

Sections of Soho tapestry hung in the Tapestry Room at the Vyne, Hampshire. They were originally commissioned for the house in about 1720. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The Soho tapestries at Belton are rather faded, but the ones at The Vyne have retained more of their rich dark colours. They were originally meant to evoke East Asian lacquer.

Design for a fireplace and wall treatment by Daniel Marot, c. 1700.

The architect Daniel Marot depicted them in the prints of interiors that he published in about 1700. And if you look closely you can see another direct match: the pavilion shown three quarters of the way up in the tapestry in the Marot print also appears in the top left-hand corner of the tapestry at The Vyne.

Into the closet

January 18, 2011

 

The entrance to the Green Closet at Ham from the Long Gallery. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Ham House website now has a downloadable guide to the miniatures and cabinet pictures in the Green Closet (see the link under ‘Guidebook’).

The south and west walls of the Green Closet. The electric lights are copies of those the 9th Earl of Dysart installed before 1904. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Green Closet is a rare survival of an early seventeenth-century private cabinet designed for the display of small pictures and other treasures.

Some of the miniatures on display, including in the centre a portrait of Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The raised ceiling painted by Franz Cleyn (1582-1658) was inserted in 1637-9.

The east wall. The closet was purposefully designed with one window in the north wall to provide a steady light and reduce light damage. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The present silk damask used for the wall hangings and uphholstery is a recreation of the ‘green damask’ that was known to be there after 1672.

Small cabinet picture by either Ambrosius II Bosschaert (1609-1645) or Abraham Bosschaert (1612/13-1643). ©NTPL/John Hammond

The ebony table of c. 1670 with caryatid supports is inset with the silver monogram of Elizabeth Murray (1626-1698) when she was Countesss of Dysart.

The 'fire pan garnished with silver' and the 'brass fender guilt' recorded in 1683 are still in the fireplace. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Louis XIV-style design of the table (and of the stools and cabinet stands) is based on engravings by Jean le Pautre (1618-1682). The Japanese lacquer cabinets date from about 1630.


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