Furnishing fabric of roller-printed cotton, England, 1831
Height: 45.72 cm, Width: 63.5 cm, Height: 18 in, Width: 25 in
British Galleries, room 120
Made in England
Between 1820 and 1840 textile printers began to produce designs that were based on the woven silk dress fabrics of the 1750's. Designs showing curving trails of lace or ribbons between bouquets of flowers became as popular in the 1830s as they had been in the 18th century. [27/03/2003]
The pattern of this printed cotton has been created with an engraved metal roller, and its additional colours built up by wooden surface roller. Roller printing on textiles was introduced in the late 18th century and at first used mainly for small-patterned dress fabrics. By the 1830s it had become a highly mechanised process, and had largely replaced block printing in the production of fashionable furnishings.
Materials & Making
The development of roller printing coincided with a radical transformation in the dyestuffs available for printing on cotton. Until the beginning of the 19th century printing had been based on the use of vegetable dyes. In Britain, France and Germany new chemical processes were developed and mineral colours produced that transformed the palette of colours available to the printer and made combinations such as the shades of pink and orange seen here possible.
Design & Designing
The false trails of lace and bouquets of flowers in this design are inspired fairly closely by the patterns of woven silks from nearly a century earlier. Changing taste made such a design, printed on to cotton, suitable for furnishing a room in the 1830s, while the 18th-century silk that was its inspiration would have been intended for a woman's gown.