Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 22: White Ground Chintzes

Reproduction star by Bettina Havig

Reproduction star by Becky Brown

We're going back in time to the earliest American patchwork, so we will be spending the summer months discussing fabrics found in quilts before the 1840s. 

Antique star block, collection of Old Sturbridge Village
Early 19th century

The most distinctive of the early prints are chintzes, a style defined in 1663 by English diarist Samuel Pepys. He recorded a shopping trip to buy his wife "a chintz, that is, a painted Indian calico, for to line her study."

Detail of the Copp Quilt about 1800,
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution
Dark-ground chintz squares alternate with star blocks of chintz scraps.

To Frances Trollope, an Englishwoman traveling in America in 1828, chintz meant "the material of a curtain" and the definition remains the same. Chintz generally means a cotton furnishing fabric, used for drapes, slipcovers and upholstery. 

White-ground chintz with border print from a garment, 18th century

The figures in the earliest prints are block-printed and hand-painted. This
is the type of Indian chintz that became fashionable with Europeans
when cotton became a pillar of world trade.

We'll begin with white-ground chintzes, which were used for furnishing fabrics but also quite popular for clothing in the 18th- and early-19th-centuries.

Madame Pompadour by Fran├žois-Hubert Drouai,
The mistress of the King of France 
wears an elaborate cotton dress to do her needlework. 

Detail of Madame's dress. 
Drouai could paint!

Early chintz imports were wood-block printed to Indian taste with light figures on dark-colored backgrounds, a remarkable novelty to Europeans. Novelty soon wore off, however, and sales dropped. By the mid-1600s English middlemen began influencing Indian design by sending sample patterns and requesting changes in traditional figures and coloring. Letters in trading company records advised artists to substitute white backgrounds for "sad red grounds"

Gown from Colonial Williamsburg collection, 1780
Cotton print worn over quilted silk petticoat

The popularity of imported cotton prints alarmed established producers of silk and wools who demanded trade protection. In 1700 Parliament prohibited the English from importing and wearing foreign prints. French chintz lovers fared no better with bans on French and foreign chintzes in effect from 1686 to 1759, laws flouted by the fashionable. 

The Netherlands was one of the few European countries permitting free trade in chintzes.

Man's garments in large-scale chintzes
Collection: Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands

The Dutch wore amazing garments that were illegal in other countries.

Woman's jacket
Collection of the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands

Antique star quilt alternating with a nine-patch.

Years ago Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts
published this fabulous quilt with the caption
that it was from Edisto Island, South Carolina.

Detail of  Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend's small quilt.
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Hephzibah made this quilt on Edisto Island too. White ground chintz seems to have been a favorite with Carolina quilters.
See a detail here:

Quilt from the Lee Family of Charleston,
about 1830
Charleston Museum

See more about his South Carolina quilt in the collection of the Charleston Museum at this post


Reproduction star by Becky Brown.

Look for large scale, multi-colored florals. 
Above, a vintage dress with a similar reproduction.

Dawn at Collector with a Needle used Dutch chintz repros
from Den Haan 

Den Haan's Dutch prints

Dutch Delight by Maureen Crawford

I bet she used the Dutch repros.

Mary Koval with her current Palampore collection

Two by Nancy Gere

Catherine's Courtyard by Betsy Chutchian
White-ground and dark-ground chintzes

Kathy Hall's Southcott quilt panel has
a white ground chintz with a Chinoiserie design,
just like the original quilt at the Winterthur Museum

I occasionally reproduce these early 19th century chintzes.
Above and below is a print from Lately Arrived from London

At top the document print; the brighter is the repro.
I think Becky used this print in her star at the top of the page.

It looks like Jan Hutchinson used the tan version for the border on this medallion.

Here's a stripe Terry Thompson and I did
for Moda in a long-ago line named Coral Gardens.

A current repro from French General

Better buy the bolt!

Collections for a Cause: Love

India Chintz from Windham

You may have some of this Kaye England print from
Enduring Grace

Georgann Eglinski's  center star from her reproduction quilt
called Thank You, Robert Bishop!

Georgann used many white-ground chintzes.
She gave the quilt that name because she found
the original in a book by Robert Bishop.

And don't forget to look at decorator fabrics. You'll find 
a lot of  accurate chintz repros in these heavier furnishing materials.
If the green seems too bright, cut around it.

What to do with your Stack of Stars?
Make a chintz medallion.

Maryland, Math and A Magnifying Glass by Sylvia Jennings Galbraith
Sylvia interpreted an early Maryland quilt for an AQSG Quilt Study of
quilts made before 1840.

Lori Smith's pattern Reminiscence

Mariann Simmons for the Virginia Quilt Museum

Di Ford, Phebe reproduction

Bobbi Finley and Carol Gilham Jones

One More Thing About Chintz

Glazed neat stripe in an early-19th-century British hexagon

We may think of chintz as a glazed fabric because we can buy plain chintz, a shiny cotton with no print at all. Traditionally chintz was finished with a glaze or not. In the past the surfaces were polished with wax, resin or starch, treatment that added weight, stiffness and elegance. The shine also repelled stains and dirt, but was liable to wash away.

Glazed chintz stripe for furnishings, end of the 20th century
Mills use other chemicals to obtain a shiny surface today.

Don't focus on the glaze. Chintz is best defined as a large-scale furnishing print.

Late-18th-century chintz

Read more about white-ground chintzes at this post:
And pages 10-12 in America's Printed Fabrics deal with chintzes.


Wendy Caton Reed said...

Fabulous post. So much inspiration. However, it seems I have missed a few reproduction chintzes over the years. I thought I had them all!

Jeanne said...

Oh, that Dutch woman's jacket is dazzling! Not sure if I have much in the stash for this week's chintzes ... off to rummage around :)

Roxanne said...

So happy today to move a favorite Cranston Printworks fabric from the 90s into my growing repro stash. Love it!

suzanne said...

These are my favorite fabrics, so nice to see so many here in so many different uses. Lately Arrived From London is my favorite fabric line ever. Remember that blue on white chintz design that was a maybe for that line but didn't make it. You PROMISED that we would be getting some of that later:-) Remember? Just a friendly reminder.

Dawn said...

I love your Lately Arrived line, one of the all time best IMHO. Alll of the fabrics in this post are beautiful