Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Textile Portrait in Purple and White, c. 1830

I am so taken with this elegant portrait of a fashionable sitter, c. 1830. I have a fragment only-- one section of the repeat. The original textile from the Cooper Hewitt (, shows two women set within decorative medallions. 
Seen from waist up, these portrait busts are carried out in purple and white cotton, with the engraving done on a plain weave. There is an emphasis on their delicate features, and the latest on-trend dresses, with their voluminous sleeves, and hairstyles for 1830. It would not be surprising if they were based on actual portraits or taken from contemporary fashion plates. I am hopeful a reader may be able to identify the source.
What is especially interesting about the fragment in my study collection, is that, unlike the extant example at the Cooper Hewitt, its was repurposed for a light weight quilt or coverlet as some slightly later time. Although somewhat faded likely due to exposure to light, the piece provides an opportunity to see the hand- quilting up close, and to peek at the cotton batting which is falling away. Underneath is left a ghost of the original portrait, gazing out from her cotton enclosure.

 For an example of the original textile, see:

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