Italian Minstrel

Italian Minstrel

Saturday, 26 November 2011

How Toiles were created...

The Miller, his son and the donkey
This is a charming original Toile, dating from the early 1800s, the subject matter is the miller, his son and the donkey, a fabric which tells a tale, often from Aesop's Fables in illustration. These illustrations were then put onto copper-plate and printed in a single colour onto linen or cotton, the detail being very fine. That is what a toile is and the early dating toiles are very collectable.  By early I mean c. 1770 onwards and some of those fabrics only survive as an original design in a museum.

Often they were part of an eleaborate bed-hanging set and over the years the set would either get separated or parts worn and damaged, so you find pieces and rarely an early complete set, which would be very valuable. This piece is a pelmet, and would have hung from the canopy, hand-quilted and backed in home-spun linen.

Just wonderful when you think every part of the process was hand-made from the illustration being drawn, engraved on the copper-plate, hand-printed onto the fabric which in those days would have been loomed but still 'manned', then the hand-work to back the fabric with hand-spun and loomed linen, and to hand-quilt it, finally the making of the piece to fit the bed for which it was ordered. Really only something that wealthy follk could afford, but because of the naive, pastoral style of the fabric it still endures today.