Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Birds in the bush

  These birds date from the late 19c. and are beautifully printed on fine cotton and known in France as Indiennes.  Many different versions of birds, flowers and plants were designed at the height of their fashion and the new chemical dyes give some a very brilliant colour.  It was the Empress Josephine who loved 'la Nature' in every form, who encouraged the French print manufacturers to design them and they copied the new patterns which came into France on the Eastern and Indian trade routes - they were a novelty and in a very different style to some of the older classical styles of the Napoleonic period and the more romantic Eastern visions of the jungle with exotic flowers, bamboo and tropical birds with brilliant plumage were extremely popular.   Many different colours were used, all sizes of birds from little tree creepers to massive parrots and raptors were copied and in general, the smaller the birds, the earlier the design.  The later ones showing fierce claws and beaks are not to everyone's taste and might cause nightmares!  I have examples of birds of the first kind in brilliant blue in my kitchen, and very sweet multi-coloured ones in a bathroom and they are very light and pretty at the windows.  They are liable to rot and fade as the cotton is so fine but I now have a splendid example in crimson just in from France, which is a door curtain, already gathered and with matching braid in what appears to be unused condition and quite unfaded.  It would split to make two narrow dress curtains or cover a small  chair, or possibly make a very dashing item of dress.

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