Yellow brocaded silk damask dress fabric 

United Kingdom

Date: 1740-1780

Origin: United Kingdom

Dimensions: W 51cm x H 29cm

Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

This yellow brocaded silk was probably intended for use as garment fabric – perhaps as a woman’s gown or a man’s coat or waistcoat. The silk has a damask weave creating a self-coloured background pattern overlaid with vibrant, colourful floral sprays that have been added with additional brocade weaving. The brocade is further enhanced with the use of metallic threads. The complex pattern using multiple colours and difficult metallic threads would have required experience to execute and is clearly the work of a skilled, specialist silk weaver.  

Throughout the 18th century, Chinese design became very fashionable in Europe, leading to ‘Chinoiserie’; European imitations of Chinese decorative arts. It was also throughout the 18th century that silk weaving developed into a sizable industry in Britain, due to the influx of Huguenot refugees from France who fled religious persecution from 1685 onwards. Many brought silk weaving skills with them. Here we see a European silk displaying Chinoiserie styled motifs and a bold yellow background that matches the shades of yellow worn in the Chinese Imperial courts. 

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