Jan 9, 2012

French fabrics and the indienne flower

French textile designers took inspiration from the colorful printed textiles that were imported from India by traders and overseas trading companies in the 17th century. The Indian motifs and colors were re-interpreted and modified in order to more easily sell to French households. These French-designed and French-produced textiles in the East Indian style were called indiennes.
Some of the more popular motifs were of large-headed fantasy flowers and were often incorporated into wide textile borders as well as in wallpaper friezes and borders.
Here are several large indienne floral prints from three different 19th century wide cotton border prints from the Alsace region of France. These borders measured about 10-12" wide and the oversize flowers were almost the full width.

As can be seen by the printed cottons below, the same sort of indienne floral motifs were used in curtain and drapery fabrics as well, but in a much smaller scale. The third below incorporates the popular Indian tree-of-life motif in a slightly modified version.