Nov 20, 2009

Beautiful French leaves for fall color

Sometimes less is more in textile design ... sometimes a simple pattern is just what is needed. The French fabric prints of the late 19th century and early 20th century used a myriad of themes and motifs. One of my favorites is the use of the simple leaf as the focus of the design. Color, movement and scale of the leaf motif can all affect how this most basic natural element can be incorporated into a decor.
This unusual chintz uses a lovely blue oak leaf pattern incorporated into a simple meander. In this case, the background is a very pale gray, printed to mimic a woven silk pattern, ca. 1840 (click on any image to enlarge.):

The next three motifs, all from the second half of the 19th century, use varied shades of color and gray to give a three-dimensional look. The first of the three is tropical in inspiration and uses several types of leaves in one pattern. The second also has a tropical feel with stylized ferns and dense foliage. The third fabric uses leaves more common to northern Europe in a cleverly-designed central bouquet pattern.

The next two motifs use pink and brown as the main colors. The first is a sensational pattern of closely-packed leaves. The second fabric features a stylized leaf with a meandering branch in the background.

The next two motifs are both from the late 19th-century, although the red background with pink leaves is the more traditional design, despite the unusual color scheme. The orange and green leaf fabric uses opposites on the color wheel in a pattern inspired by the traditional tree-of-life motif.

And, even as the 20th century rolled in, leaves as the primary motif did not lose their charm. The black background with pale shaded green leaves is from the 1920s and the fabric with the scrolling leaf sprigs is from the 1930s. 

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