Panel of Silk Damask
English (Spitalfields), ca. 1734-40



The town of Spitalfields emerged in the early 18th century as the center of the English silk weaving industry; striking in its simplicity, this aquamarine blue damask illustrates the masterful textiles produced there. A gleaming satin ground provides the perfect foil for the sophisticated large-scale design of luxuriant floral and foliate motifs. Based on comparable surviving watercolors in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection, this bold design is attributed to the notable Spitalfields designer Anna Maria Garthwaite. Woven as a dress silk, its sophistication and refinement would have been evident when fashioned into a dress. A 1746 portrait of Mrs. Charles Willing, by the American artist Robert Feke, shows the sitter in a gown of very similar damask for which the original 1743 Garthwaite design has been identified.

An identical panel of damask is in the Winthertur collection (2004.53); an additional panel, in a different color, is found at Colonial Williamsburg (G1975-342, 1). Both this panel and Winterthur's portrait of Mrs. Charles Willing are illustrated on p. 85 of What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America (2002) by Linda Baumgarten.

41" H x 19.75" W

Spitalfields Damask 18th c.
Garthwaite Damask 18th c.
Spitalfields Damask 18th c.
Garthwaite Damask 18th c.

Costumes | Textiles

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