Mar 26, 2010

Ribbons tie it all together

Nineteenth century French textile designers often used a ribbon motif  as decoration for their central pattern while also letting the ribbons create a link between the larger elements in a design. This simple design motif was versatile and popular and remains so today.
The first below is a late-19th century fabric that uses a lacy-looking ribbon. The next example, with the white background from mid-19th century, has elegant striped ribbons with lacy edges.
The next three have very similar ribbon-tied motifs and all three from the late 19th century.

The next is a late-19th century cotton damask ticking with a meandering ribbon motif.
The last is a 1920s fabric with a large-scale motif of flower-filled baskets, jauntily held together with lavender ribbons.

Mar 19, 2010

Springtime flowering trees

In Languedoc, the first signs of spring are the ground-hugging crocus, the large yellow mimosa flowers and the pinks and whites of the hundreds of flowering almond and peach trees. Springtime orchards in many shades of pink will produce the famous peaches of Languedoc by the month of July.

Mar 12, 2010

An early floral print

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of owning a rare and beautiful early indienne. The large-scale print, done on very fine cotton, was the top face of a hand-stitched light-weight bedcover from about 1800.
The colors were still vibrant, although age had taken its toll with some small holes. The fabric had been lovingly darned and patched many times. Notice how the stitcher tried to match the patch with the pattern. The background was near-white, although the some of the pictures make it look ivory. Enjoy!

Mar 5, 2010

A very curious French toile

I bought this unusual antique French toile from a dealer in the south central region of France a few years ago. The piece was a large quilted panel that would have hung at the head of of a bed. I first was drawn to it because of the very rarely-seen rose and yellow polychrome print. This toile is from the Alsace region, mid-19th century, and was likely designed by George Zipelius.
As I looked at the scenic motifs, I was quite amazed to realize that the story depicted French soldiers raiding a farm and stealing the farmer's goods!
Below, the first two pictures show the overall pattern and motifs.  The bottom part of the first picture shows the brightness of the original colors. This bright part was near the bottom of the panel and had probably been protected from the sunlight, perhaps behind the bed.
The next four pictures are close-ups of the scenes that tell the story. The first scene shows a soldier taking wheat from the farmer's wife; the second shows a soldier wrangling a pig by grabbing its tail while his cohort helps him pull. The third scene shows one soldier enticing a chicken out of the coop while the other is preparing to whack it with a stick! 
The last scene is a little difficult to interpret, but it looks like the farmer and his wife are building a masonry wall for protection, while consoling their depressed daughter. The people who lived in mid-19th century France had suffered years of war and of military confiscations, but I find it curious that they would want to hang a reminder on their wall.