Aug 14, 2009

Toile de Jouy - monochromatic prints

Almost everyone is familiar with French toiles and in particular, the monochromatic prints - the toiles de Jouy - produced by the 18th century Jouy factory owned by the Oberkampf brothers.

Besides employing top artists and designers to create the patterns for their printed cottons, the company was at the forefront of inaugurating mechanical and technical advances in printing methods as well as research into the chemical processes used in dyeing fabrics. Prior to the 1770s, all Jouy fabrics were tediously printed by hand with engraved wooden blocks. Wood block printing limited the dimensions of a pattern and was very time-consuming.

In the early 1770s, the factory installed its first copperplate press. The engraved copper plates, much bigger than the wood blocks, allowed for large scale floral and scenic patterns. Engraving on metal plates also allowed for far greater detail and intricacy in the patterns than had been possible with the wood blocks. These beautifully designed and expertly engraved patterns were printed in one color and are the earliest prints that we now identify as the toiles de Jouy. Interestingly, in 1800, about 65% of their monochromatic prints were done in violet while the other third was done in red or blue. Tastes change!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome: