Published: August 29, 2000
Textiles for the American Home, 1700-1845, at Colonial Williamsburg
WILLIAMSBURG, VA. – Upholstery textiles from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries will decorate the Textile Gallery of Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in the upcoming exhibition “: Textiles for the American Home, 1700-1845.” The exhibition will be on display December 2 to September 2, 2002.
Textiles played an important role in the lives of early Americans by adding color and warmth to home interiors as well as accentuating or even augmenting the owners’ status. During the Eighteenth Century, textiles were by far the largest commodity imported into the American colonies consuming a far greater proportion of the average person’s salary than today. Worldwide trade made it possible for fashion-conscious colonials to import fabrics from London within just a matter of months.
Interestingly, “upholstery” at that time referred to all the textiles used in an interior, not simply those nailed to furniture, as is the case today. In fact, Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century upholsterers essentially were the equivalent of modern day interior decorators and retailers combined.
Visitors will have the opportunity to see some early upholstery textiles that utilized techniques that ranged from the very complex – such as elaborately woven brocaded silks or bed hangings made of nearly 50 yards of fabric – to the very simple – such as button-up curtains on drapery beds. Also on display will be a small doll bed with its original roller-printed cotton bed hangings. A loop and button technique used on the curtains allowed them to be drawn up in drapery fashion.
“Visitors to ” will discover that” said associate curator of textiles and exhibition curator Kim Ivey. “This pursuit of property, if you will, will be a major theme in Colonial Williamsburg’s 2001 interpretive storyline ‘Buying Respectability’ and will be reflected not only in this exhibition but in programming through the Historic Area.”
Related programming will include a symposium January 14 to 16, 2001 conducted by the Williamsburg Institute entitled “Textiles at Home: From Quilts to Drapery to Upholstery.” Featured speakers will be Lynne Bassett of Old Sturbridge Village, author of Northern Comfort: New England’s Early Quilts; Linda Eaton, curator of textiles at Winterthur Museum; and Kim Ivey of Colonial Williamsburg. A series of classes, “Textile Art Studies at Colonial Williamsburg,” will extend the week of educational opportunities January 17 to 20, 2001. For information, call 800/603-0948.
Entered through the reconstructed Public Hospital of 1773, the museum is on Francis Street near Merchants Square and is open 11 am to 6 pm daily. For information, call 757/220-7724.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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