Furnishing fabric of roller-printed cotton, Lancashire, 1831
Height: 44.6 cm, Width: 58.2 cm, Height: 17 in, Width: 23 in, Height: 58.2 cm, Width: 44.6 cm
British Galleries, room 118a
Printed in Lancashire
The basic design of this cotton was printed with an engraved roller. Even by the 1830s, despite great technical improvement, it was difficult to print more than two or three colours simultaneously. Often extra colours were added by wood block or wooden surface rollers. [27/03/2003]
The pattern of this printed cotton has been created with an engraved metal roller. Roller-printing on textiles had been introduced in the late 18th century, and at first was 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 which transformed the palette of colours available to the printer and made possible such combinations as the shades of orange and pink here.
The styles considered fashionable in 1830s furnishings were widely diverse. Among the more recognisable historical references were Rococo, Elizabethan and Gothic. A design such as this seems to be relying on novelty of effect for its success.