Furnishing fabric of roller-printed cotton, England, 1831
Height: 43.18 cm, Width: 58.42 cm, Width: 13 in
British Galleries, room 120
Made in England
Although the curving lines of this pattern and its use of naturalistic motifs such as leaves and fronds of seaweed were based on designs of the 1750s, the effect is very different. Developments in printing technology and, in particular, in dyes in the 19th century, created designs that were much more intensely decorated than any that would have been produced in the 18th century. [27/03/2003]
The pattern of this printed cotton has been created with an engraved metal 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 green and shades of pink seen here possible.
The styles considered fashionable in 1830s furnishings were widely diverse. Among the more recognisable historical references were to the Rococo, Elizabethan and Gothic. A design such as this, however, seems to be aiming for success by novelty of effect, a taste encouraged by the developing technology of dyeing and printing.