Textile fashion exhibit to debut at DeWitt Wallace Museum

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fabric sample book
This 1783 swatch book from Manchester, England will be part of a new exhibit spotlighting textiles at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. (Photo courtesy of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg)

For the fashion-forward set in the 18th- and early 19th-centuries, it was all about printed cotton or linen.

That’s the theme of an upcoming exhibition at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, titled “Printed Fashions: Textiles for Clothing and Home,” according to a release from Colonial Williamsburg.

The two-year show, set to open March 25, 2017, features 80 printed cottons and linens, many of which are being displayed for the first time. Together, they demonstrate the design, history and creation of printed fabrics from 1700 to 1820

“The history of printed textiles may sound modern to today’s consumers,” Linda Baumgarten, CW’s senior curator of textiles and costumes, said in the release. “Traders shipping goods from the other side of the world in ships, domestic workers trying their best to respond to foreign competition, people making the effort to dress in up-to-date styles despite their limited means and the importance of chemistry and mechanical expertise in the production of consumer goods. All of these concepts could easily represent textile production today as well as it did centuries ago.”

tree of life quilt
This quilt, from between 1770 and 1790, is mordant-painted and made of resist-dyed cotton and silk. It will be on display starting next month. (Photo courtesy of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg)

Among the items on display are: a sample book, dating to 1783, with 430 printed cotton swatches from a printing firm in Manchester, England; a bed quilt, exhibited for the first time, with a printed panel from India, known as a “palampore,” that depicts a flowering tree; and a man’s chintz banyan, crafted from Indian cotton with a floral design. Other objects in the exhibition include a doll from the 1770s, clothing, quilts, women’s accessories, curtains, valances, chair covers and a trunk lined with printed cotton.

To mark the exhibition’s opening, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will hold a symposium on March 26-28. Speakers include Rosemary Crill, honorary research associate at the Victoria and Albert Musuem; Linda Eaton, the John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw director of collections and senior curator of textiles at the Winterthur Musuem; Susan Greene, an author and independent researcher; Philip Sykas, a research associate at the the Manchester School of Art and Barbara Brackman, an independent scholar and researcher. Twenty scholars from the United States and England will present juried papers about textile use and printing.

For more information about the exhibition, go here