Collection of the Winterthur Museum
It's been seven days of blather about Portuguese Prints. And I do have a point to make. Well, several, so here's a summary of what I learned.
Block Printing a Striped Cotton
Between 1721 and 1811 British mills were prohibited by law from selling cotton prints to English customers. Undeterred, England's entrepreneurs developed a world-wide cotton export business catering to the taste of customers in India, Africa and the Americas.
Kate Tupper's border fabric,
mid-19th century. See her quilt at Colonial Williamsburg:
The English cotton's likely trip from Northern England to Kate in Charleston
(possibly traded several times and maybe making more stops)
Roller Printing became viable in the early 19th century
American woman in a striped dress about 1850.
Her dress fabric is probably an import.
The United States began a thriving domestic competition with British small-scale calicoes in the 1840s and with British furnishing chintzes in the 1870s. Domestic printing industries in smaller countries such as Portugal developed later.
Turkeys as exotic birds---A Portuguese print from the Cooper-Hewitt
1841. "[Send me] furniture calico, but take care to select none such, as will exhibit Turkey Gobblers, Peacocks, Bears, Elephants, wild Boars."
An order from Texan Sam Houston. Apparently he was not looking for a Portuguese print.
Portrait of Briton Lady Anne Blunt, Lord Byron's granddaughter,
and her drapes: a cornucopia and a large bird.
Early-20th-century reference to an "Old Portuguese design"
The name Portuguese Print seems to have been a familiar term to American customers into the early 20th-century, meaning a bright furnishing fabric, often a wide floral stripe.
A Portuguese Quilt from the Cooper-Hewitt Collection
The wholecloth quilt may have been made in Portugal but the fabric
was printed in Britain
Two stripes from the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum
Recent Chita de Alcobaca from Portugal
Portugal's domestic textile industry continues selling similar prints today. What was once printed for their taste is now designed by Portuguese mills for domestic and export consumption. (Is it actually printed in Portugal or, like American cottons today, designed and marketed there but printed in Asia?)
Border on a sunburst quilt in the collection of Indiana's
Conner Prairie Museum, from about 1840 -1860. It looks like the bird stripe
has been cut from a chintz.
This style of striped Portuguese print was popular with quilters in the United States between about 1820 and 1860, particularly for borders.
Collection of Leah Zieber Quilts
Striped florals were fashionable for drapes and other furnishings from 1820 well into the 20th century.
Queen Victoria at Balmoral Castle:
The epitome of Victorian taste.
At one point I was sure that the idea of a print aimed at foreign taste meant that the English would not be interested in a gaudy stripe. However, as with everything in Victorian Britain class was a factor. A caption for one at the Victorian & Albert's website tell us that the fabric 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:
My first guess: The "Portuguese prints" were not sold in Britain---at first due to law--- and after 1811 due to taste. But once I got a better look at Victoria's couch at Balmoral...
The detail is from a painting by James Giles. His father
was a calico designer and James did
an excellent job of capturing the Queen's taste in furniture prints.
I would guess this chintz medallion from the collection of
the New England Quilt Museum was made in England.
The center octagonal panel celebrates the wedding of Charlotte
the Princess of Wales to Victoria's Uncle Leopold in 1816.
That border certainly qualifies as a Portuguese stripe.
The stripes printed for the export market also appealed to the English.
American taste about 1850.
Floral stripes were apparently fashionable dresses too.
Lisa sent a photo of a chintz she bought on line. Here it is in her Pennsylvania living room. It's amazing how large these figures were.
She's cut out one of medallions for the center of a cut-out chintz/Broderie Perse quilt she's working on. It's probably a 20th-century repro of an older piece, very much like the "Portuguese" stripe in Lewis' book Chintz
This gives you a better idea of the scale in Lewis's photo.
I've spent so much of my time and yours on this topic because I am trying to figure out the sources for the prints in American quilts before 1850. The Portuguese prints manufactured in Britain for export are one piece of the puzzle. I would guess that most of the prints we see in American quilts at that time followed the same Atlantic trading routes----Liverpool to Lisbon to Africa to Rio to the U.S. coast.
The fact that mid-19th-century Britain's largest market for cotton fabrics was Brazil shakes up my ideas of how Kate Tupper's border fabric wound up in Charleston.