Friday, 26 June 2009

A beautiful 19th century toile depiction of Mothers, Grandmothers and children at home.

I obtained this very tatty but also very beautiful early 19th century French toile panel today. I think it most likely started out life as a large bed curtain around about 1825, but has been turned into a quilt at a later date, probably about 1850-70, with the addition of a madder dyed floral cotton layer attached to the reverse (this is very similar to the cotton layers I found inside a French quilt I researched in earlier posts), some interesting striped and floral patches, and some extra cotton batting between the original toile's linen lining and the new floral cotton.

I really like this toile, what I call 'domestic toile' as opposed to the more common pastoral or neo-classical toiles, with scenes from inside the home, imbued with refreshing simplicity and homeliness. The detail is beautiful, a young girl hushes her little brother and his dog when she realises that Grandmother has nodded off listening to the story she has been reading, a young Mother takes time-out from her pile of mending to talk to her son, and another Mother shares the task of wool-winding with her son, he doesn't look best pleased with the task, but somebody has to help!

These are obviously idealised images, rather than historical records, but they can still shed light on some aspects of family life, relationships and domestic activities within the home during the early 1800s. Small special maternal moments captured forever!


  1. I have never seen a toile like this. I love it. It is really beautiful to see new images/scenes on a toile that I have not had the chance to experience. I also love the French floral that was on the other side of this toile. You find the most marvelous things. What fun to stop by and see them.

  2. It is lovely, I agree, very different from the usual toile subjects! A very confident, feminine textile. I wonder whether the designer was female!