Read an Excerpt
Traditional Floral Designs and Motifs for Artists and Craftspeople
By Madeleine Orban-Szontagh
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1989 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries was a highly innovative one for textile manufacture in Europe, producing with a high degree of technical perfection a great variety of designs that are now firmly fixed in our tradition. During this relatively short period, several new inventions appeared in the industry, the most important of which included copperplate printing and roller printing in Scotland, the Leitenberger blockprinting machine in Germany and the Jacquard loom in France. With the aid of these developments, European manufacturers in the mid-eighteenth century began not only to maximize the quality and beauty of domestic designs produced in hand blockprints, embroidery and brocade, but also to incorporate Eastern-style prints and weaves into their repertoires and actually compete with the East in the same field of endeavor.
In France, England, Germany and Switzerland, designs of this period were dominated by stripes, flowers, fruit, ribbons, birds and branches. Many of them resembled designs centuries old that had originated in the East—especially India, Persia and China—and had already begun to influence Europe in the Middle Ages. Floral designs like those in ancient Persian textiles, which had influenced Byzantine and then medieval Italian fabric design, eventually found favor throughout Europe, particularly in France and England. Shawls from Kashmir, an ancient Indian region of wool-weavers, became popular in the eighteenth century for their large floral sprays, and were imitated with great proficiency by the English.
From medieval times, European blockprinters were imitators, striving to achieve the results they saw in beautiful fabric prints brought on trade routes from the Near and Far East. Blockprints from India were perhaps the most popular and widely imitated in Europe, especially after large quantities of them were imported in the seventeenth century. When protective bans were imposed by France and England, in 1686 and 1701 respectively, on the import of printed fabrics, manufacturers in those countries imitated Indian prints under great pressure from consumers—and the quality of their imitations, known as "Indiennes," soon rivaled that of real Indian products.
By the mid-eighteenth century, the stripes and floral profusions popular throughout Europe had begun to show the maximum result of not only the foreign influence just discussed, but of domestic practice as well. Natural flowers from local regions were featured in many designs. These, particularly when produced with the help of the new weaving and printing methods, glorified the intricacy and perfection seen in their own everyday nature by the Europeans.
Parallel to the growth of the European textile industry was the development of Russian woodblock printing from blocks with which vegetable dyes were stamped onto coarse linen. Russian floral blockprints were distinctive, reflecting domestic woodcutting techniques and keen observations of nature.
The present collection of traditional floral designs and motifs is drawn from this extremely fruitful and important period in the history of textiles. From among the printed and woven pieces preserved at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Printed Textiles in Mulhouse, France, and the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, artist and surface designer Madeleine Orban-Szontagh has selected, and rendered in line, designs representative of England, France, Germany, Switzerland and Russia, dated between 1760 and 1840. Her selection most prominently features popular styles from England (primarily the southeast) and France, the two dominant textile-producing countries in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It includes products of specific important textile centers in France (Jouy, Mulhouse, Alsace, Bourges, Rouen, Montpellier and Nantes) and also samples of several Eastern styles that influenced European design.
These original black-and-white line renderings define the pure contours and tiny details of each design, recalling the high technical quality of the original prints and weaves. Captions that appear at the bottom of each page, briefly giving sources and dates, allow for immediate identifications and comparisons, further increasing the usefulness of this book for artists and craftspeople.
Excerpted from Traditional Floral Designs and Motifs for Artists and Craftspeople by Madeleine Orban-Szontagh. Copyright © 1989 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.