Friday, 25 September 2009

Tracking Red Indiennes

I find the Indiennes, produced in France in the last half of the 19th C. a source of delight - they come in many colours but the pink and red ones showing birds, insects and foliage are my favourites. They became very fashionable in France when the Empress Eugenie was on the throne and she had a passion for 'la nature' particularly as depicted in the Indian prints imported on the East India trading routes. French mills were quick to copy and re-design the gorgeous Eastern flowers, bamboo foliage and some of the birds might well have come out of French gardens, but many were very exotic with extravagant plumage and tails. They were all done in a pleasing naturalistic style and the scenes were often embellished with pretty butterflies, bees and other insects all in flight amongst the foliage. The earlier prints had very small birds and the foliage was often delicate, like bamboo or long grasses, but towards the end of the century they became coarser and the birds became rather fierce-looking raptors with large beaks and claws. They were printed on very fine cotton, and probably glazed so they have often faded in the windows and are rather flimsy - I have used several panels in my own house which I thought too fragile to sell to others and have devised a way of lengthening both the size and their life-span in my own way -the birds are multi-coloured and so are various small flowers. These are in my visitor's cloakroom, so pay them a visit one day!

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