Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

4.12.2013

Designing Woman: Anna Maria Garthwaite

[Design for textile by Anna Maria Garthwaite, 1732, Spitalfields, England. Now in the V & A's collection.]

This month marks the 250th anniversary of textile designer Anna Maria Garthwaite's death. That's right, textile designer. In the 18th century. Remarkably, nature-loving Garthwaite not only supported herself as a prolific designer of English silks at a time when it was rare for a woman to do so, but she rose to the top of her field.  

[Design for textile by Anna Maria Garthwaite, 1752, Spitalfields, England. Now in the V & A's collection.]

Maybe even more remarkably, her work endures. Examples of her exuberant yet naturalistic take on flowers can be found today at The Met and at The V & A. (The latter has more than 800 of her original watercolor designs for fabric.) Along with her skill as a painter, Garthwaite seemed to have in-depth knowledge of weaving techniques, notes The Met.

[Brocaded silk by Anna Maria Garthwaite, 1740, Spitalfields, England. Now in the V & A's collection.]

More often than not, when 18th-century textiles appear on this blog they're handpainted cottons from India -- the fresh chintzes that inadvertently became competitors with Spitalfields Silks and sparked a revolution in Britain. (Cotton is a major interest of mine.) Still, from time to time I like to mix things up and look at the luxe English wovens. In step with the Garthwaite-related celebrations taking place next week in London, I've pulled three florals from her expansive body of work.    

Related reading: V & A Pattern:Spitalfields Silks.

2 comments:

Toby Worthington said...

Courtney--To my great shame I'd never heard of Anna Maria Garthwaite until today. Gorgeous examples of
her designs. I once spent a completely soul-satisfying
afternoon in the Textiles Department of the V & A, having the gallery entirely to myself with the exception
of a kindly curator who stopped by to tell me how much
she appreciated my interest.

Style Court said...

Toby -- your peaceful afternoon at the V & A sounds like heaven!

Apparently Anna Maria purchased her own house too. I think she'd be a wonderful subject for a movie -- keep wondering if anyone has explored the idea. Or at least a visually stunning documentary. ( Wish I'd thought of that 3 years ago, in time to coincide with this year's floral mania!)