The Warner Textile Archive is pleased to announce an important collaboration with the Fashion and Textile Museum, based in London, on a major exhibition charting the history of chintz. From 18th May 2021 until 12th September 2021 two items from the collection of the Warner Textile Archive will be on display at the Fashion and Textile Museum as part of their exhibition Chintz: Cotton in Bloom.
The Warner Textile Archive has loaned an important sales record book from c.1935 showing special print production for clients of Warner & Sons Ltd, including designs created as early as 1867 that were reprinted for customers in the 1930s, including A. H. Lee. Textile Historian and guest curator of the display Victorian Chintz and its Legacy within the exhibition Chintz: Cotton in Bloom, Mary Schoeser, says; “Making and merchanting block-printed chintzes in the UK often involved three to four different companies, one the printer and another, a wholesaler like Warner & Sons, who stored and dispatched finished cloth. Its destination could be a firm like Lee Jofa, selling to the trade, or an individual decorator. During the interwar years the likes of Edith Wharton (1862-1937), Elsie de Wolfe (1859-1950) and Dorothy Draper (1889-1969) in New York, and Sibyl Lady Colefax (1874-1950) and Geraldine Monro (1887-1963) in London, did much to ensure the use of exclusive, hand-printed chintzes.”
Alongside this important sales record book from the collection, a large engraved and wooden surface-roller printed cotton curtain panel [Doc 482a] dating from c.1835 is also on loan from the Warner Textile Archive for the exhibition. Textile Historian, Mary Schoeser, describes the piece thus; “Roller-printing on textiles began in Britain the late 18th century, only becoming highly mechanised in the 1830s and then still incorporating hand techniques. Probably printed in or around Manchester, which had some 100 printworks by 1840, the use of dark outlines distracts from the poor registration of the engraved rollers -red, purple, and black – with surface rollers carrying the relatively newly-available dark green dyes. The yellow was probably applied by hand. While the “fancy” engraved ground is entirely English in concept, its incongruous mixture of leaves and blooms still shows the influence of Indian chintzes.”
About the Exhibition
Chintz: Cotton in Bloom is a collection with an extraordinary story, spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles. The complicated technical craftsmanship required to fix bright dyes to cotton, devised across centuries and using complex chemical formulae, meant that for many years chintz was a closely guarded secret, or preserve of the elite. However, by the 18th century chintz had become more widely accessible. The lightweight, washable, gaily coloured and boldly patterned cottons eventually became a sensation throughout England and across Europe. These developments resulted in the intricate, colourful flowers of chintz fabric being cherished and preserved by generations.
Chintz: Cotton in Bloom showcases some 150 examples of this treasured textile, originating from all around the world; from mittens to wall hangings and from extravagant 18th-century sun hats to stylish mourning dresses.
Exhibition Organised by the Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. http://www.friesmuseum.nl
Book your tickets here: https://www.ftmlondon.org/ftm-exhibitions/chintz-cotton-in-bloom/__
Overview of the Warner Textile Archive collection
The Warner Textile Archive is the largest publicly owned collection from a luxury textile manufacturer in the UK. The Warner Textile Archive is housed in the original Warner & Sons mill in Braintree that was refurbished in 2004 to hold the significant collection. The collection comprises over 100,000 items, including designs on paper, hand woven textiles, printed textiles, business records, photographs and manufacturing equipment. At its height, Warner & Sons were producing fabric for royal weddings and funerals, and decorating palaces. The family business pioneered several textile manufacturing techniques that have never again been replicated.
About Braintree District Museum Trust
The Warner Textile Archive is part of Braintree District Museum Trust who are a charitable company that tends to both the Warner Textile Archive and Braintree Museum. The vision of the Trust is to preserve, promote and interpret the history of Braintree District and restore the Warner Textile Archive as an international design and manufacturing resource.
The Warner Textile Archive sales record ledger on display at the Fashion and Textile Museum alongside a framed paper design from the collection of the John Lewis Partnership.
Photograph Courtesy of the Fashion and Textile Museum.