Friday, May 15, 2009

Toile de Jouy

Photo of Bedcoverings from 1785 from Quilts of Province by Kathryn Berenson

I am utterly besotted with Toile de Jouy, a printed cotton fabric with patterns of country scenes, characters or floral motifs that originated in France in the 18th century. This beautiful fabric traditionally came in red and white, blue and white or sepia and white.

The manufacturing and trade of toile de jouy made a fortune for Baron Christophe-Phillippe Oberkampf (1738-1815) who owned a factory in Jouy-en-Josas. His expertise in copper-plate and copper-roller printing allowed the creation of large-scale prints with scenic, allegorical and historical figures. Popular for bed coverings, drapery and furniture upholstery, this fabric was in high demand in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and was widely copied in France and England.

The Musée de la Toile de Jouy presents the history and technique of printed fabrics from 1760 to 1843 using drawings, models and materials such as the wooden blocks, copper plates, rollers, dyes and frames used in the process. There is also an impressive collection of the fabrics themselves in which the stylistic changes in taste and fashion can be seen through a range of designs. The factory itself closed down over 100 years ago but this lovely fabric still inspires designers and artists (including me).

I would dearly love to see this museum during my upcoming trip to Paris. Unfortunately, it is 19 km southeast of Paris and 4 miles southeast of Versailles. I'm not sure I'll be able to fit it into my jam-packed itinerary. If anyone has any suggestions on where to find fabric in Paris, I'd be ever so grateful if you could leave a comment!

Musee de Toile de Jouy
54 rue Charles de Gaule
Chateau de l'Eglantine
Jouy Les Loges
33 139 56 48 64

P.S. Happy 120th Birthday to The Eiffel Tower today! It is fascinating that this beloved icon was once considered an "odious column of bolted metal" and "the dishonour of Paris" when it was selected as the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle.