QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Pheasant & Palm Chintz #2: Half & Whole Chintzes


In the Winterthur Museum catalog Printed Textiles, Linda Eaton describes these popular prints as variations on the style of Exotic Islands. "The arrangement of patterns into 'islands,' often incorporating palm trees, reflected the widespread interest in the many voyages of exploration..."

The Cummersdale Design Collection, a private archive at Stead, McAlpin has a piece dated 1814 from Bannister Hall. The furnishing fabric was printed in many colorways. In the early 19th century printers might start with a multicolored image.


This print on a white ground had blue, red and brown figures along with yellow and perhaps at one time a little purple (the purple tended to fade to brown.) Multicolored prints were known as full chintz or whole chintz.



Printers changed up the look in two ways. One was to print fewer colors (a cheaper print) so you often find the figures in just two or three colors. The usual limited colors were dark brown, madder red and blue. Without the added yellow atop the blue here the leaves were not green. Prints with fewer colors in the figures were called half-chintz or demi-chintz.

"Printed with two stippled rollers on a dipped blue ground with extra colors added by blocks. Bannister Hall, about 1815." Eaton.

The second way to change the look was to add a colored background. Above a rare blue ground example from the Winterthur's collection.  After the birds, trees and flowers were printed by roller, backgrounds were added with padded blocks we call blotches. Eaton calls it a dipped blue ground.


Results could be blotchy. In this plum ground piece there are many gaps or halos showing white background where the added background didn't completely match the figures.

I went through my picture files and found 10 different colorways of the print

Note that some grounds came in both full or whole chintz and demi-chintz or half chintz.
I know I am missing some colorways that were probably printed. I bet this came in a bright green
ground and a yellow ground too. And there was probably a blue ground demi-chintz.


UPDATE: Stumbled upon this green ground example at the Textile Museum of Canada. It's the green ground on a full chintz print.


ANOTHER UPDATE: This famous quilt from Patricia Smith Melton's collection at the International Quilt Study Center is a half-chintz figure with the added green ground.


In 1810 The Laboratory defined Whole Chintz:
  • 3 reds
  • 2 purples
  • blues
  • greens
  • yellows
  • blending into orange, olive, buff, chocolate, etc.
Half Chintz
  • 2 reds
  • no purple
To make it all harder to figure out there are reproductions. In fact, the early pieces were printed twice, first about 1815, then reproduced in the 1830s. The pieces above are probably all before 1840. Below are two 20th-century reproductions and there are surely more out there.

Reproduction from The Chintz Book in 1923
Would you see that pink and purple
in Swainson's time????

Definitely a Reproduction.
Colors too pale, registration too good, detail too minimal.

The Nichols House Museum in England describes this 20th-century coloring as printed by Stead-McAlpin in 1907, 1908, 1926 and 1937. They call the bird a partridge but most call it a pheasant. These would be reproductions of the 1814 Bannister Hall print that is in their archives.

And then there are 21st century reproductions:

Pheasant & Traceries by Margo Krager for Andover


1 comment:

Suzanne A said...

It's wonderful to have so much detail about chintz!! Do carry on.