Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chintzes FOR the Portuguese 3

Quilt with a central panel memorializing the marriage
of  Charlotte Princess of Wales and Leopold in 1816.
Collection of the New England Quilt Museum.

I'd call that double border stripe a Portuguese Print.
From Portugal or For Portugal? 
It depends on the time.

Mid-19th-century stripe attributed to the Accrington Print Works in 
Lancashire, England.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has captioned this vivid striped cotton:
"one of the so-called 'Portuguese prints' produced in large quantities by leading Lancashire printers between about 1840 and 1860. Although manufactured primarily for the Portuguese, Spanish and South American markets, enough examples have been found in the United States and in this country to prove that they were also used elsewhere."

"The distinguishing characteristics of cheap export cottons of this type are exotic flowers and animals, often incongruously combined with figures printed in bright colours on a striped ground...."

The print alternating a stripe of Chinese-inspired figures with another of exotic birds and rococo vignettes might have "limited appeal for high fashion in the mid-19th century [but] such details were still popular with the wider public."
See the catalog entry at the Victoria & Albert here:

Border of a quilt in the collection of
Colonial Williamsburg by Kate H. Tupper

This caption on a Portuguese print goes a long way to explaining how Charlestonian Kate H. Tupper came to include a similar striped print in her 1850 quilt, although she probably had nothing to do with Portugal or South America.

Print identified as Portuguese in the
collection of the Cooper-Hewitt,
perhaps "only fit for the Portugal market."

The implication in the V & A caption is that prints designed in England to export to Portugal, Spain or their colonies in South America were brighter, splashier and perhaps less sophisticated than those designed for the domestic English customer.

Florence Montgomery in her Textiles in America, 1650-1870 describes the same kind of disdain for the export market in a discussion of baize wool. The lower grade was "only fit for the Portugal Market." A somewhat finer grade was "solely vendible in Spain" but not, apparently, in England.

Brazil was Portugal's South American colony from 1500 to 1825 and has retained its Portuguese language and culture to this day. Sarah B. Parks studied Brazilian imported prints between 1827 and 1841, the early years of Brazilian independence, noting an 1828 British traveler's remarks on Rio de Janeiro's shops, “filled with all kinds of European merchandize, particularly Manchester shawls, handkerchiefs, cotton and calicos of the most showy colours...."

Parks's major source was the Potiers Diary at the Winterthur Library, records of transactions between English merchants and Brazilian customers. The caption above: "In 1834, Brazil became the single largest importer of British cotton textiles."

Not Boston, Philadelphia or Charleston---Brazil.

Read Sarah Parks's paper “ 'By your exertions conjointly with ours': British printed cottons in Brazil, 1827-1841" here at the Digital Commons at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

Why don't we see more of them in quilts?
Perhaps because we don't recognize them.

The border on this chintz quilt looks very "Portuguese" if that's the word. Notice the lack of mitering, particularly on the right corners, indicating the large and small florals were printed and cut as a double stripe.

Same print, later quilt.

Quilt probably made after 1880 by Susannah Heebner,
Christ Collection.

A single stripe is all we have of this raspberry pink print
but it has all the characteristics of one printed for the Portuguese market,
particularly the vivid color and the alternating basket and cartouche design.

The pink stripe borders a 79" wide quilt in the collection
of the Charleston Museum. Is that stripe about 10" wide?

Julie Silber Quilts owns this pieced-together antique stripe.
Birds and a footed vase.
More on Portuguese Prints tomorrow.
It's my virtual AQSG paper, I guess.


  1. I am loving these posts. I grew up in Brazil and did sleep under coverlets that were made of Portuguese style prints. My home town weather is usually too warm for quilts. We only used blankets a couple of months a year; but the "summer coverlets" (no batting), was used daily. Thank you so much.

  2. Oh yes, this would make a splendid AQSG paper!

  3. I'm very much enjoying your virtual paper. Thanks!

  4. These fabrics are all beautiful and the information enlightening. I wish this style was available today, I did purchase the Di Ford border stripe you showed earlier, very inspiring for quilters. Thank you for all of this research.

  5. I'm enjoying learning about Portuguese chintzes. When can we expect some smart textile mills to come out with reproductions?! Hint hint.