Exploring the Floral Visions: the floral patterns of the Stoddard-Templeton Archive

Blog post by Frank Fan, student on the University’s Dress & Textile Histories Masters programme.

The Stoddard-Templeton Archive houses a collection of textile samples which were used alongside sketches, designs and publications as an inspirational resource for the companies’ design teams. This collection provides a useful approach to understanding the pattern designs, woven techniques and the use of textiles in the nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain.

As a result of the technological advances of the industrial revolution, Britain in the late nineteenth century saw the mass production of textiles. As part of my postgraduate in Dress and Textile Histories, I have been cataloguing some of the samples held in the Stoddard-Templeton Archive.  I noticed that a high percentage of the samples featured floral patterns, demonstrating the popularity of these styles within the British textile industry. I have chosen three examples from the archive to demonstrate different aspects of floral patterns in Victorian Britain.

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Plate one is a typical Art Nouveau pattern. Its highly decorative floral strings scroll in a romantic and ornamental shape. These beige patterns are applied on a golden ground of satin, creating a splendid visual image. The term Art Nouveau originates from the name of Samuel Bing’s shop, which opened in Paris in 1895 exhibiting a number of contemporary British and French decorative objects. This textile sample reflects the dominant design style in British decorative arts. Exhibited at the International Exhibitions in London and Paris, British Art Nouveau established a long-term influence on designers worldwide.

In addition to Art Nouveau, we can also find some evidences of the influence of Japanese culture and design. Plate two shows the orientalised chrysanthemum patterns regularly repeating on a dotted ground. Chrysanthemum is a symbol of imperial Japan, featuring on the seal of the Japanese Royal family. The first display of Japanese wares came at the London International Exhibition in 1862, and the Japanese style had an important impact on the British design community. During this period, Bruce J. Talbert (1838-81) was a successful designer interested in Japanese art, who produced a series of designs for wall hangings and portieres for James Templeton & Co. of Glasgow. Whilst this textile sample was probably not designed by him, it does reflect the popularity of this style within Victorian Britain.

Lastly, some bright motifs are also accessible in this archive. Plate three shows pink brocaded roses repeating in an alternating position on a latticed background. In 1856, the first truly chemical dye, Perkin’s mauve, appeared.  It was followed by aniline red two years later, and then by a number of bright garish colours. These bright colours quickly became popular with designers and customers, and they began to appear in dress fabrics and home furnished. This sample can be assumed to have been dyed by means of chemical mauve pink.

By examining these textile samples, they provide us with an insight into the trend of pattern designs in the nineteenth century, and more importantly, they reflect the social development, cultural exchange and chemical advancement in the context. More examples of the textile samples found in the Stoddard-Templeton Archive can be found in this Flickr album.

Categories: Archives and Special Collections, Library

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