Furnishing fabric of roller-printed cotton, possibly made by Accrington Print Works, Lancashire, 1840-1860
Height: 300 cm, Width: 72 cm
British Galleries, room 125c
Made in Accrington, Lancashire
By 1840 Chinese styles had lost their appeal in the most fashionable circles but were still widely popular elsewhere. The leading Lancashire printers produced and exported large quantities of inexpensive cottons such as this one. Chinese figures and pavilions are shown in awkward combinations with flowers and exotic birds printed in bright colours on a striped ground. [27/03/2003]
This is a printed cotton produced in Lancashire in the mid-19th century for export abroad. The cotton would have been intended for use as furnishing but would also have provided novelty use for a number of other purposes. The donor's grandfather worked in the Accrington Print Works and it is likely that the cotton was made in this factory.
This is one of the so-called 'Portuguese prints' produced in large quantities by leading Lancashire printers between about 1840 and 1860. Although manufactured primarily for the Portuguese, Spanish and South American markets, enough examples have been found in the United States and in this country to prove that they were also used elsewhere.
The distinguishing characteristics of cheap export cottons of this type are exotic flowers and animals, often incongruously combined with figures printed in bright colours on a striped ground. The use of Chinese figures as part of the overall pattern in this inexpensive export cotton shows that, despite Chinoiserie having limited appeal for high fashion in the mid-19th century, such details were still popular with the wider public.