QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Chintzes FOR or FROM the Portuguese 4


In his 1942 edition of the book English Chintzes Frank Lewis published this striped print with the caption:
"An example of the designs produced in this country [England] for the Portuguese market."
Chintz aficionados in the first half of the 20th century would not have been as confused as I was when I first read that caption. "Portuguese print" was a relatively common description.

In 1925 stylist Richardson Little Wright showed how to decorate your home using striped slipcovers, featuring...


A chintz copied from an old Portuguese design.


In 1921 the New York Herald advertised Portuguese Chintzes from a Portuguese textile dealer on Madison Avenue. My grandmother in Brooklyn could have read this ad and probably known exactly what they meant: A bright floral stripe.

Here she is in Queens in 1945 with a chintz striped curtain. 
In 1918 the magazine New Country Life
showed a piece of vintage chintz found 
"in the home of a Portuguese peasant...hand-woven and hand-blocked"
[Last two descriptions unlikely.]

In 1909 a San Francisco dry goods store advertised:
"Portuguese printed hangings 36 inches wide, fruit and flower designs in soft colorings...25 cents a yard."
More description of Portuguese printed bedspreads in "soft yet brilliant color" from the New York Herald in 1922: Belmaison must have been an interior design firm.


They describe an oriental motif ---Chinoiserie---
perhaps somewhat like this one from the collection of
the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.


I have no pictures anything like the other Portuguese print described, which featured a medallion
portrait of Louis Napoleon, Eugenie and their son. 
Too bad.

Over the past hundred years the concept of a Portuguese print has been lost to the American design vocabulary.

Chinoiserie stripe cataloged as a "so-called Portuguese Print" by the 
Victoria & Albert Museum.
People in Oriental dress and settings were a popular theme in these stripes.

When I started this search I should have checked my copy of Susan Meller's Textile Designs. Right there on page 379 the caption for the blue stripe with the vase on the left says:

"Export Goods: England to Portugal: With its characteristic cobalt blue background, wide stripe layout, and vase of flowers...part of a genre of designs so commonly sold to Portugal that they are now thought of generically as Portuguese."


And yet more on Portuguese prints tomorrow. 

1 comment:

Erica in Alaska said...


Really enjoying all these bright, lively prints! I had no idea.