Thursday, October 6, 2016

Toile de Jouy

From Victoria:
Captivating storytellers, toile patterns have been adored the world over for their romantic imagery featuring flowers, fauna, and idyllic scenes of genteel country life. The craze began quickly when the first printed cottons were imported from India to France in the sixteenth century. Lightweight and washable, these wildly colorful block-printed indiennes were met with an exuberant fervor that virtually paralyzed the French fabric industry. So imminent was this threat of competition that, in 1686, King Louis XIV commanded an embargo on the importation of all cottons and issued a decree to arrest anyone who violated the ban. Despite these deterrents, the quest continued to flourish in secret.

When the ban was lifted in 1759, the coveted printed cottons eventually rebounded from their scandalous beginnings, and French factories regrouped in hopes of fulfi lling the demand themselves. Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf was one of the fi rst to manufacture block-printed textiles in France alongside the crystalline river Bièvre in the town of Jouy-en-Josas; hence, the expression toile de Jouy. It was only a matter of time before the industrious Oberkampf adapted the faster and more precise copperplate printing method, a technique already implemented in both England and Ireland that produced sharper engravings with expertly rendered variations of shading and light. This process paved the way for commissioned artists to design extensive patterns depicting elaborate themes and historical events with detailed human subjects and complex scenery. (Read more.)

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